Good Morning All!
Welcome to Researching For Romance Writing, a weekly meme where I feature my latest finds. Please feel free to share any links or tips you think will add to the discussion. Happy Researching!
Russian Organized Crime
The volume of material I've perused on this topic is astounding, and at times, contradictory. Origins of organized crime in Russia are explored vaguely. It is not until the 1800's that a discernible/researched system of order is reported. Until the mid 1800's, the collective groups of *organized* criminals were often viewed by the peasants (who comprised the largest segment of the population) as Robin-Hood type saviors. Their opposition of wealthy landowners and government bolstered their popularity with the poorest of Russian society. Also interesting in my reading, Russian criminal groups were not founded primarily on ethnicity. I found this rather intriguing since such wide variance of ethnic groups comprised the large country.
Rank, nobility (I use this term lightly when discussing Russian history, as their definition and acknowledgement of the term was quite different than what was accepted in England), and lineage did not recommend, nor preclude, membership within organized crime. In fact, the Russian *nobility* was so confusing by the mid 1800's that a prince could be penniless and rather unimportant while a wealthy colonel could hold a position of great influence. We see this oddity within the pages of Tolstoy's War And Peace.
It is after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 that organized crime in Russia solidifies into what we understand today. Again, there are contradictory reports. One view is that organized crime elements supported the Bolsheviks against the government and worked in tandem with the new government - at least the corrupt limbs. This would be plausible as crime needs the government to *look the other way* in certain instances! But other articles claim organized crime opposed any and all government. I read one account that Lenin himself was robbed by highwaymen, and swore to wipe them from existence. Obviously, he failed in that endeavor. Life after the Bolshevik Revolution remained horrible for the poorest Russian people, and actually became worse with food requisitioning. Organized crime flourished.
The period I write about in my latest novel is well before the Bolshevik Revolution. This allows me wide freedom to craft my back story for Mikhail, his introduction to the criminal underworld, and his position in society. All in all, this was a fascinating topic of research. Please feel free to comment or note an interesting article you found on the subject - and thanks for stopping by.