Excerpt from A Lecture…
To look back at my Russian business experiences from 1990 – 2000, they were anything but typical for an expatriate living a working in St. Petersburg. In thanks to a Russian partner I was introduced to the underworld of Russian business, more specifically the Mafia and occasional glimpses of deep-rooted corruption in the Russian Government. With no thanks to this Russian partner I was also introduced to transnational organized crime and honored with a memorable 8-hour interrogation by the KGB in February 1994.
A top lieutenant in the Russian Mafia Tombovsky Crime Family once told me the difference between a “Good Foreigner” and a “Bad Foreigner”. A good foreigner was what they called a foreign businessperson who came to Russia but had no timeframe set as to when he/she would depart. A bad foreigner on the other hand was classified as a foreign businessperson who came on short trips or a foreigner who came to work in Russia for a short period of time with a scheduled departure date. A majority of foreigners who came to Russia in the 1990’s were considered Bad Foreigners. The foreign partner that was looked upon, as a bad foreigner, was believed not to have a long-term interest in benefiting their Russian partners. The Russian partners were over anxious to find foreign partners for the explicit reason of gaining foreign capital for their enterprises. Following the beginning of privatization, most factories were in serious debt and cash poor, thus the reason for Russia to open her arms to foreigners.
I had many opportunities to watch, and analyze, business relationship between Russians and foreign visitors between the years 1990 and 2000. Soon following the financial crises of 1998 I created and organized the Foreign Commercial Consuls Club of St. Petersburg. Membership consisted of Commercial Consuls from most foreign countries with representations in St. Petersburg. This Club gave me a direct connection to representatives of many different countries and an invaluable opportunity to discuss with them their relations and feelings about the Russian market, culture and people. In early 2002, as an executive in Washington DC, I created a new organization called the Foreign Embassy Club of Washington DC which has membership of foreign diplomats from more than 25 of the area Foreign Diplomatic Missions. This newer Club allows me to continue my research on international relations. The founding members of this Club include the Embassies of the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Australia.
- My First Visit to the Soviet Union (thecommunicatorwv.wordpress.com)
- Russia, Called ‘Mafia State,’ Regrets US ‘Cynicism’ – BusinessWeek (news.google.com)
- Russia Is ‘Mafia State,’ Prosecutor Said in Cable (businessweek.com)
- Russia Is ‘Mafia State,’ Prosecutor Says in Leaked U.S. Cable (businessweek.com)
- US embassy cables: Russian mafia active in Thailand (guardian.co.uk)
- Novartis commits to St. Petersburg production (rt.com)
- Interview with imprisoned Russian art group (boingboing.net)
- Finnish, Russian leaders ride new fast train (foxnews.com)
- US embassy cables: Russia is virtual ‘mafia state’, says Spanish investigator (guardian.co.uk)
- Nine Russians in custody in Belarus over post-election protests (rt.com)