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Crime, arrest, and prison population rates in Russia from 1961 to 2013

Crime in Russia has many different types. Organized crimes include drug trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking, extortion, murder for hire, and fraud. Many criminal operations take part in corruption, black marketeering, terrorism and abduction. Other forms of crime done by criminal groups are arms trafficking, export of contraband oil and metals, and smuggling of radioactive materials.[1] Crime rate in Russia sharply increased since the late 1980s.[2] The fall of communism in Eastern Europe had tremendous influence on the political economy of organized crime.[3] Approximately 8,000 criminal groups are in the country.[1] Almost 50% of the nation's economy is connected to organized crime.[4][5]




Drug trafficking and illegal drug use is a big problem in the nation.[6][7] The disintegration of the Soviet Union, the civil war in Afghanistan, the civil war in Tajikistan, and the conflicts in the North Caucasus have made the favorable conditions for the development of illegal drug trade.[8] But measures have been taken to fight drug trafficking. Russia is a party of the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.[9] In March 2003, Russian President Vladimir Putin established the Russian State Committee for Control over the Illegal Trafficking of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances for combating drug trafficking with more coordinated manner.[10]

Sexual and labor traffickingEdit

Russia is a supply, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children being trafficked for various purposes.[11][12] The trafficking is multidimensional and it involves both commercial sexual exploitation and labor exploitation.[12] Russia is a significant source of women trafficked to over 50 nations.[11] Internal trafficking is a problem in the country; women are trafficked from rural areas to urban settlements for commercial sexual exploitation.[11] Men are trafficked internally and from Central Asia for forced labor in the construction and agricultural industries.[11] Debt bondage is common among the trafficking victims.[11] Arms trafficking has become a significant problem in Russia following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.[13]

Illegal sale of weaponsEdit

Arms trafficking in Russia stemmed from corruption in the armed forces and the illegal sale of military equipments.[13] In 2000, the number of seized unregistered firearms was 300,000, which was a 37% increase compared with 1999.[13] Many Russian criminal organizations, aside from arms trafficking in Russia, provide weapons to the terrorist groups in Chechnya.[3] Poaching was rare in the Soviet Union,[14]


Poaching is now a major problem in the country. The main cause for poaching in Russia is the consequence of the social and political changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union.[15] State-controlled farms stopped functioning due to the fall of the previous system resulting in high unemployment.[15] Unemployment, poverty, inflation, shortage of food and demand for foreign currency have major impact on the wildlife in the country.[15] Animals being poached are bear, musk deer, tiger etc.[16] Approximately 50,000 cases of poaching are registered annually in Russia.[17]

Reasons for crimeEdit

Between 1992 and 1996, law enforcement agencies in Russia mainly focused on drug trafficking, arms trafficking, money laundering and the First Chechen War, and environmental crimes like poaching and illegal timber smuggling were generally not treated as national security issues.[18] During the post-perestroika transition, the government agencies for environment and wildlife protection experienced severe budget cuts[18] which led to layoffs and salary reductions for wildlife rangers in places like Primorski Krai and it reduced the resources of the rangers to fight against the poachers.[16] There has been an increasing demand for bear parts, especially bile, and it led to an increase in poaching of bears in the Russian Federation.[19] The collapse of communism in the country had significant influence on the average Russian's economic ability to maintain his or her family.[19] There are a large population of bears in Russia, and Russia's trade in bear parts is primarily with nearby Asian countries like South Korea and the People's Republic of China.[19] Because of these poaching of bears become easy for Russians.[19] Poaching of the snow leopard is a serious problem in Russia along with Afghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, People’s Republic of China, Russia, Tajikstan and Uzbekistan.[15]

International comparisonEdit

The murder rate in Russia has become three times as big between 1988 and 1994 and is now among the highest in the world.[20] In 1998, a total of 24,537,600 crimes happened in United States, while in Russia a total of 2,581,940 crimes were recorded.[21] In 1999, the number was 23,677,800 and 3,001,748 respectively.[21] Total recorded rapes in the United States was 93,140 and 89,110 for the years 1998 and 1999, while this number was 7,724 and 7,314 respectively for Russia.[21]

Country Russia[22] Germany[23] United Kingdom[24] France[24] Canada[25] United States[26] South Africa[24] Colombia[24] Poland[24] Japan[24]
Homicide rate 19.80 1.4 1.6 1.9 1.9 5.7 49.60 61.78 0.056 0.005
Year 2000 2000 2004 2004 2004 2006 2000 2000 2000 2000

Following is a comparison of various crimes per 1000 people from 1998 to 2000:

Country Russia Germany United Kingdom France Canada United States South Africa Colombia Poland Japan Italy Ukraine
Total crimes[27] 20.58 75.99 85.55 62.18 75.49 80.06 77.18 4.98 32.85 19.17 37.96 11.77
Car thefts[28] 0.182 1.008 5.605 4.971 4.885 3.879 20.15 49.60 1.765 2.430 4.197 0.0673
Robberies[29] 0.923 0.721 1.574 0.401 0.823 1.385 4.44 0.571 1.388 0.041 0.649 0.456
Frauds[30] 0.568 10.867 5.283 2.351 2.611 1.257 1.513 0.029 2.07 0.348 0.578 0.311
Rapes[31] 0.048 0.090 0.142 0.139 0.733 0.301 1.195 0.043 0.062 0.017 0.040 0.024


  1. 1.0 1.1 Phil Williams (1997). Russian Organized Crime: The New Threat?. Routledge. pp. p53. ISBN 0714647632.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  2. Jonathan Daniel Weiler (2004). Human Rights in Russia: A Darker Side of Reform. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. p35. ISBN 1588262790.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Robert Harris (2003). Political Corruption: In and Beyond the Nation State. Routledge. pp. p165. ISBN 0415235553.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  4. "THE RISE OF ORGANIZED CRIME". Federation of American Scientists
  5. Putin attacks crime-ridden Russia BBC
  6. Abraham Bob Hoogenboom (1997). Policing the Future. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. p121. ISBN 904110416X.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  7. "Rehabilitation Required: Russia's Human Rights Obligation to Provide Evidence-based Drug Dependence Treatment" (PDF). Human Rights Watch.
  8. Dmitriĭ Trenin, Alekseĭ Vsevolodovich Malashenko, Anatol Lieven (2004). Russia's Restless Frontier: The Chechnya Factor in Post-Soviet Russia. Carnegie Endowment. pp. p178. ISBN 0870032038.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  9. Narcotics Federal Research Division, Library of Congress
  10. Oksana Antonenko, Kathryn Pinnick (2005). Russia And The European Union: Prospects For A New Relationship. Routledge. pp. p94. ISBN 0415359074.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 "CIA World Factbook - Russia". CIA World Factbook.
  12. 12.0 12.1 William Alex Pridemore (2007). Ruling Russia: Law, Crime, and Justice in a Changing Society. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. p167. ISBN 0742536750.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Imogen Bell (2002). Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. Taylor & Francis. pp. p62. ISBN 1857431375.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  14. Nozar Alaolmolki (2001). Life After the Soviet Union: The Newly Independent Republics of the Transcaucasus and Central Asia. SUNY Press. pp. p40. ISBN 0791451372.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 IN FOCUS: DECLINING NUMBERS OF WILD SNOW LEOPARDS European Association of Zoos and Aquaria
  16. 16.0 16.1 Valmik Thapar (2006). Saving Wild Tigers 1900-2000: The Essential Writings. Orient Longman. pp. p359. ISBN 8178241501.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  17. Maria Shahgedanova (2002). The Physical Geography of Northern Eurasia. Oxford University Press. pp. p540. ISBN 0198233841.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Valmik Thapar (2006). Saving Wild Tigers 1900-2000: The Essential Writings. Orient Longman. pp. p358. ISBN 8178241501.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Kathy Etling (2003). Hunting Bears: Black, Brown, Grizzly, And Polar Bears. Woods N' Water, Inc. pp. p177. ISBN 0972280413.CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  20. Measuring homicide in Russia: a comparison of estimates from the crime and vital statistics reporting systems ScienceDirect
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 "Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems" (PDF).
  23. "BKA, German federal crime statistics" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-09-27.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 "National homicide rates, UN data published by Nation". Retrieved 2006-09-29.
  25. "Crime in Canada, Canada Statistics". Retrieved 2006-09-27.
  26. "All crimes in the US in 2004, US Bureau of Justice Statistics". Retrieved 2006-09-27.
  27. "Total crimes by country, UN data published by Nation".
  28. "Rate of car thefts by country, UN data published by Nation".
  29. "Rate of robberies by country, UN data published by Nation".
  30. "Rate of frauds by country, UN data published by Nation".
  31. "Rate of rapes by country, UN data published by Nation".


Further readingEdit

  • Sergeyev, Victor M. (1998), The Wild East: Crime and Lawlessness in Post-Communist Russia, M.E. Sharpe, ISBN 0765602318.
  • Ledeneva, Alena V. & Marina Kurkchiyan (2000), Economic Crime in Russia, Kluwer Law International, ISBN 9041197826.
  • Galeotti, Mark (1996), Mafiya: Organized Crime in Russia, Jane's Information Group.
  • Bäckman, Johan (1998), The Inflation of Crime in Russia: The Social Danger of the Emerging Markets, National Research Institute of Legal Policy, ISBN 9517042116.
  • J. Ljuba, Paul (1996), Organized Crime in Russia and United States National Security, Storming Media, ISBN 1423578635.
  • Paoli, Letizia (2001), Illegal Drug Trade in Russia: A Research Project Commissioned by the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Edition Iuscrim, ISBN 3861130386.