We are saying it here. We are saying it clearly and without fear.

Vladimir Putin is a political puppet, owned by Russian Organized Crime. Putin is Mafiya.

From Dresden to St. Petersburg

To truly understand Vladimir Putin and his relationship with the Russian Mafiya, we start with Putin’s time as a KGB officer in Dresden, East Germany. It wasn’t the assignment given to the best and brightest. Putin’s former KGB boss called Putin a ‘mediocre spy’, after all, but his KGB appointment in Dresden shaped his future nonetheless.1

Putin was there when the Berlin wall came down. He wasn’t prepared for the ensuing chaos. He was used to taking orders. But there were none. Putin had to act. He destroyed sensitive documents and escaped with his life.

The Soviet Union collapsed soon afterward, and East Germany ceased to exist as a state. With its end came the uncertainty of what came next for Putin and his family.2 He needed a job. He needed a future.

Putin traveled to St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), where he found a position in the administration of St. Petersburg's mayor, Anatoly Sobchak. Eventually, Putin worked his way up to Deputy Mayor. Whether he happened into that position, or was chosen for it by another, will require further digging into Putin’s past in Dresden. Regardless, that is where he landed.

By the late 1980s, St. Petersburg ran on corruption. The reason is the port. This is mafia 101.

The backbone of the mob’s industry rests on their ability to move shit around. When you are running drugs from Columbia, guns to and from the Middle-East, human beings for trafficking, sanctioned oil and gas, and – yes – even nuclear material, you need ships. You need ports. And that means: you need the politicians who govern those ports in your pocket. You need the law enforcement agencies who protect the ports under your control.

The port of St. Petersburg was infested with the Tambov and Malyshev Gangs, or Bratvas, who began operating there as early as 1988. When the Cold War ended, corruption spread. The mob took over the city and starting warring with one other for the territory.

Tambov boss, Viktor Kumarin, was able to defeat his rival Alexander Malyshev, to gain singular control over the port and city with Anatoly Sobchak's blessing. Sobchak was the politician in their pocket, and he had his Deputy, Vladimir Putin, carry out much of the dirty work on his behalf.3 Kumarin had Putin’s direct help.

From here, Putin was given more and more authority to run his corrupt operations. One infamous example happened in 1991. St. Petersburg was running out of food.4

Putin promised to help. He promised to save his people. He was given raw materials—wood, oil and rare metals—to sell overseas. The money from these sales was meant to purchase food for a hungry city. The materials were exported. The sales happened. But no food ever arrived.5 We cannot help but wonder: if it wasn’t food, what did those ships deliver in return?

A corruption investigation was launched. Putin's ally, Anatoly Sobchak, quashed it. When outcries of corruption ensued from the people of St. Petersburg, Sobchak was ultimately exiled. But Putin stood by him. It was a loyalty test, and he passed with flying colors.

The woman investigating Putin’s role in this corrupt food scandal, Marina Salye, went into hiding. She stayed hidden for a decade. In 2010, she began giving interviews again.6 By 2012, Salye called for Putin to be tried for the crimes he had committed. Weeks later, she was dead.7

Before all this, Yuri Skuratov investigated Anatoly Sobchak in 1996. Vladimir Putin went to Russian President Boris Yeltsin for help. Yeltsin demanded Skuratov's resignation, which was reluctantly given. When Yeltsin resigned a few years later, making Putin the new Russian President, Putin returned the favor. Yeltsin was pardoned.8

How does one manage to get away with these crimes and still rise to the office of President? By working with the mob. By being in the Mafiya yourself. And, as with every mob, there is one boss.

Moscow: Take out the Hunters and Rise to Power
At the same time the Tambovs took over St. Petersburg, another gang was operating in Moscow - the Solntsevskaya Bratva. It was the Solntsevskaya who saw the opportunity in St. Petersburg during the turf war between the Tambovs and Malyshevs. They combined forces with Kumarin to take-out Malyshev. With Moscow having the ultimate power of state at its center, the Tambovs and Solntsevskayas consolidated under the control of the Solntsevskaya leadership. At the top was “The Boss of Bosses” himself, Semion Mogilevich.

Mogilevich has many names, and we will use them through out our reporting. Most commonly, The Boss of Bosses is known in Russia and to international intelligence agencies as Don Semyon, “The Brainy Don.”

Don Semyon used his grip over territory and politicians to merge the Russian Mafiya and the Russian Intelligence Services into a single unit. His organization’s power grew out of St. Petersburg and Moscow, but it has since spread across the globe – throughout the old Soviet states and allies. A world power’s infrastructure and resources were left up for grabs when the Soviet Union fell. All Mogilevich had to do was reach for it.

A 1996 FBI file titled 'Semion Mogilevich Organization Eurasian Organized Crime' lays it all out.9

As part of the organized crime unit within the FSB (Russia’s FBI), Alexander Litvinenko knew full well about Mogilevich’s mob. He was investigating all of its eventual tentacles throughout the 1990s. Litvinenko was the hunter.

We know this because, during Litvinenko’s final years in exile, he worked with another former KGB mayor – but a man of integrity, Yuri Shvets. They compiled a detailed report on St. Petersburg’s mob, and Semion’s involvement, for western intelligence agencies. This is known as the Litvinenko-Shvets dossier, and it eventually led to Alexander Litvinenko’s assassination.

Litvinenko was still in his post when Vladimir Putin was appointed as Director of the FSB in July 1998. Putin came into Russia’s top intelligence and law enforcement post as a mediocre former KGB man and scandal-ridden subordinate politician from St. Petersburg (with a few scattered political posts in Moscow). And underneath him, Litvinenko did his job with integrity.

Litvinenko was soon approached by one of his commanders to execute an assassination of a Russian banker and oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. Instead of following orders, Litvinenko went to Berezovsky and told him that the FSB had put a “hit” on his life. He told him to run. He saved Berezovsky’s life.

The back-story on why Berezovsky was targeted is directly connected to Semion Mogilevich’s money. To understand that, one must understand that at the collapse of the Soviet Empire, there was great effort to shore up a new economic structure – as there would have been with any nation. And at the heart of that effort were bankers.

These bankers were the first oligarchs. They are known as the “Magnificient Seven.” Berezovsky was one, as was Semion’s partner Mikhail Fridman – the founder of AlfaBank. We believe that the “hit” put out on Berezovsky was done by Mogilevich in an attempt to take out the competition and consolidate Russia’s wealth under his control. He was “Alfa.”

As the banks grew in the years soon after under Putin’s first term as President, we see this tactic repeated. Ultimately, every Russian bank and every new oligarch became controlled by, and subjugated to, the state: a Russia - that at the time of the first oligarchs (the “Magnificient Seven”) - would soon be entirely under the Mafiya’s control.

In his final years at the FSB, Litvinenko knew of the corruption within his agency. Before Putin’s appointment, Litvinenko knew the FSB had operatives who were compromised by the very mobsters that he was charged to hunt. After warning Berezovsky, Litvinenko did his job with integrity and without fear. He compiled a report on what had happened – outlining the rampant corruption within the FSB and presented it to his new boss.

Putin wasn't interested. He put an end to Litvinenko's investigations.10

Understanding that the new head of Russia’s law enforcement and intelligence communities – a man appointed directly by President Yeltsin - was utterly compromised, Litvinenko took his case to the public. He did what may be considered the bravest act in all of law enforcement.

Litvinenko went on live television and told the world what he knew: Russia had been taken over by the mob.

It was an act so defiant, yet in such patriotic service to his oath and country, that he held this press conference without covering his face to shield his identity. He knew the Russian people must see that he was a real officer and that he was warning them directly and without fear. By doing this, he also allowed his fellow officers – who were there with him in the press conference, to keep their identities hidden. Everyone knew the stakes.

It was Alexander Litvinenko who coined the term ‘Mafiya State’.

It was Alexander Litvinenko who claimed Vladimir Putin had a “good relationship” with Semion Mogilevich going back to 1993 or 1994.11

After his press conference, Litvinenko was arrested. He was persecuted by the courts and shuttled between prisons. At a final court hearing, fearing assassination was imminent, Litvinenko reached out to Berezovsky – the man he saved – for help. With it, Litvinenko and his family found exile in London. But like Bob Levinson, he was not finished hunting Semion’s mob.

Litvinenko worked with MI6 to take out several members of Semion’s Tambov mobsters, who were hiding out in Spain. He was set to testify before a Spanish prosecutor in 2006. He was going to tell them what he knew. But the Litvinenko-Shvets dossier had made its way to Putin.

On November 1, 2006, Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London with a radioactive isotope known as polonium-210.

The mob got to Litvinenko before he could get to them. “Take out the hunters.” This is mafia 101.

The Presidential Puppet

By 1999, Boris Yeltsin’s Presidency was swamped with corruption scandals. Opposing political parties in Russia were attempting impeachment. On Dec 31st, 1999, Boris Yeltsin resigned as President. At this time, few in Russia knew Putin’s name (in a presidential poll taken in August of 1999, Putin garnered less than 2 percent support. ). Elections were scheduled a few months later to decide who would replace Yeltsin on a permanent basis.

To consolidate his power base, Putin did the unthinkable. According to Alexander Litvinenko, and various other reporters and investigators, Putin oversaw apartment bombings in Russia with the help of the FSB (he was still operating as its director). Many of the people who have reported on this, or investigated it, have been murdered since.13,14

To believe these accounts is to understand that the FSB, under control of the Mafiya and with Putin as its director, executed thousands of their own people in what can only be described as Russia’s Reichstag event. Putin blamed the bombings on terrorists from Chechnya. He held press conferences swearing to bring justice for the Russian people. He was the strong man who would protect them all. Putin found his fame.

Putin also used the bombings as an excuse to invade Chechnya.15 The fighting was brief. Russia won the war. Putin won the praise of his people. The upcoming election became a formality. Putin had already won. His power was secure.

But the only reason Vladimir Putin was in this position was because of the man who had put him there: the man who had a vested interest above all others in seeing one of his lieutenants rise to the power of the Presidency. Semion Mogilevich.

Here is Semion – on tape – at Putin’s campaign headquarters, watching his man win the Presidency. You will see Don Semyon looking back to the camera at 1:15.

Semion is the man Alexander Litvinenko tried to warn us about.16

And Vladimir Putin is his puppet.

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*Frontline Documentary link to pbs website:

* Luke Harding, A Very Expensive Poison: The Assassination of Alexander LItvinenko and Putin's War with the West (London, Guardian Books, 2016)
*Alexander Litvinenko & Yuri Felshtinsky, Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror (Encounter Books, published 2007 after Litvinenko's murder)
*Mikhail Zygar, All the Kremlin's Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin (Perseus Books, 2016)

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