Archive for May 6th, 2016


Ukraine launches CORD (Jolly Good!)

May 6, 2016

Friday 6th May saw the completion and certification of a special purpose unit within the National Police called CORD.  Its role, specifically is to tackle organised crime.

It should be noted that organised crime has a definition that is far from uniform across nations.  Ergo any broad definition does not necessarily fit snugly with some national nuances.  Thus in the broadest possible terms, organised crime might be described as planned, coordinated and conducted by people working together on a continuing basis. Motivation is often, but not always, financial gain. Organised criminals working together for a particular criminal activity, or activities, are called an organised crime group.

Organised crime group structures vary. Successful organised crime groups often consist of a durable core of key individuals. Around them is a cluster of subordinates, specialists, and other more transient members, plus an extended network of associates.  In short a fairly consistent and perhaps rigid core, surrounded by a more fluid and occasional/temporary periphery.

Ergo, many groups can often be loose networks of criminals that come together for a specific criminal activity, acting in different roles depending on their skills and expertise. Collaboration is reinforced by shared experiences (such as prison), or recommendation from trusted individuals.

Yet others are bonded by family or ethnic ties, thus some ‘crime families’ are precisely that.

Much organised criminality crosses borders and therefore jurisdictions.  Some within nations ne’er to leave it, but across county/oblast lines, and some across national borders.  Coordination and intelligence sharing issues naturally arise.

Nevertheless, so far, so relatively simple to describe in broad terms.

However, as in life, there are 50 shades of grey across the organised crime spectrum – particularly in the former Soviet nations.  As outlined in an entry from November 2015, it can be difficult to place some participants into definitive categories, for some have “moved on”, some have clearly legitimate business activities as well as illegitimate activities that are distinctly separate, some are and have remained entirely organised criminals, and yet others are linked not via direct organised criminality, but by the issuance of grace and favour – and thereby association – to those that are.  Guilt by association may, or may not, necessarily apply.

Therefore the former Soviet-space and what happened in, during and thus came of those that survived the 1990’s and flourished atop the remnants of crumbled State institutions and politics can become difficult to separate into black and white categories when many came from or required the help of organised criminality to get there.  Indeed, the FSU is subject to its own Interpol project – Project Millennium (or TEOC).

By way of example, the aforementioned link concludes appropriately with the bold text below  – “In 1995 Leonid Lebedev (associated with Russian organised crime as well as being a Russian politician) became the chairman of Sintez Group – a small Russian commodities concern that had a grubby and somewhat opaque little deal with various majors through the years – Rosneft, Luk Oil etc.  In 1995 the company was  turning over about 15 million tonnes of heating, diesel oil and gasoline.  His business partners were/are Mark Garber and Alexander Zhukov.  (Mr Zhukov is the father of Daria Zhukova – who is now the wife of Roman Abramovich).

Mr Zhukov was/is in charge of Sintez production, pipeline transport, and export through Odessa Port (having 7 berths at terminal 10).

(As is oft the case with organised crime there are hiccups along the way.  In one such hiccup, Messrs Lebedev, Garber and Zhukov, together with Kuzma Medanich, Andrey Vazhnik, and Anatoliy Fedorenko had a bit of a run-in with Italian law enforcement in 2002/03 over gun trafficking.  A small matter of Kalashnikov’s, guided missiles, anti-tank missiles and ammunition headed for the Balkans.  Eventually the case collapsed due to lack of evidence with only Dmitry Streshinsky getting convicted and receiving a 23 month suspended prison sentence and a fine.)

However, amongst many subsidiaries of Sintez Group was/is Sintez Oil Ltd run by Mr Zhukov (naturally being a partner in Sintez Group) and which has a large and allegedly controlling nefarious footprint in the Odessa ports.  The long-reigning Odessa mafia Don, Alexander Angert is also associated with Sintez Oil via a subsidiary called Transcargo.  Unsurprisingly Mayor Trukhanov also worked for Sintez Oil for some time – not withstanding his association with Mr Angert during the crazy days of the 1990s when working together in “Captain Security”.

Also associated with Captain Security, and Messrs Angert and Trukhanov back in the day was Ruslan Bodelan, a long time Chair of the Odessa City Council whom it is claimed, transfered the City accounts to the Sea Commercial Bank of Odessa – coincidentally owned by the same Mr Zhurkov of Sintez Oil.  There is then Mr Angert’s ROST Group of companies, well known to Mayor Trukhanov by his own admission, and a company extremely successful in winning City contracts.  

There is no need to go on and on, describing yet more and more connections between these people – and there are many – after all, why wouldn’t friends and trusted associates do business together (through a lot of different companies)?”  – At some point truly nefarious activities give way to incredibly weak linkage – if any linkage whatsoever between associations and involvement in criminality is present beyond inference/perception.

What is “known” and what can be proven in a court of law are entirely different things.  The activities of ROST mentioned in the quote may have few if any criminal overtones – despite its ownership and despite any criminality of other entities owned by, or individual actions of, the same leadership.

However, it appears that CORD will not be looking at this type of organsied crime – at least as an immediate priority.

Upon completion of a two month specialisation course, Secretary of National Security and Defense of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, stated “We have to honestly say, in terms of socio-economic crisis, which is in Ukraine, organized crime, especially armed, now raises his head.  The fight against armed crime – your main task.”

It seems clear therefore that CORD will concentrate upon armed organised crime within the borders of Ukraine.


In some cases that may appear to be clear cut organised criminality, with newly armed cigarette smugglers in Transcarpathia for example (and numerous regional variations on a theme), and yet in others it may well meet a very smudged line between armed organised criminality and terrorism regarding monetary and goods flows within the ATO area of eastern Ukraine.

This therefore raises the question where exactly CORD fits within the institutional structures, its roles and responsibilities, its command and control, mission creep and collaborative work with other (sometimes interchangeable) entities.

There are issues of overlap and the duplicity of scarce resources expended vis a vis gaps in the pavement where there be no ownership and nefarious interests will flourish.

Structures change of course.  In the days of this blog such policing was more or less the purview of Regional Crime Squads, replaced by a National Crime Squad.  There was NCIS.  Now NCIS and the NCS merged to create the SOCA (Serious & Organised Crime Agency), notwithstanding some overlap with Special Branch (SO12) and SO13 (Counter-terrorism) then separate entities – now they collectively form SO15 (CT Command)..  These structural changes designed (and hopefully achieved) fewer gaps in the pavement, far less duplicity of resource expenditure and easier liaison with external interested parties.

With the line between terrorism and organised crime converging in methods of raising finance and its movement, not to mention increasingly similar sophisticated counter law enforcement measures, institutional terms of reference and responsibility to avoid duplicity of resources or gaps in the pavement are of great importance.

As such, a reader may ponder why it is the Secretary of National Security and Defense and neither Minister of Interior nor National Police Chief that is tasking (at least publicly) an entity drawn from within the National Police with tackling armed organised criminality.

Perhaps organised armed criminality has been identified as a national security and defence priority.  If so, then rightly – for organised crime whether armed or unarmed is perceived as a serious national security issue by this blog – and not simply with regard to Ukraine, but it applies to all States.

Whatever the case, it is a year since this blog suggested actively addressing the issue of weaponry seeping across the nation via 3 distinct, but not necessarily exclusive methods.

That organised criminality would become better armed organised criminality was long predicted – as was some armed (para)military personnel forming organised criminal groups.

Naturally one of those 3 suggested methods was robustly enforcing the rule of law (per whatever statue currently be law) – so CORD is sincerely wished success indeed.  May their future successes (which there will be) become a platform and inspiration for those charged with taking on the unarmed organised criminality that has retarded Ukrainian development for decades past – the latter being perhaps a task less physically dangerous but more difficult to achieve.

%d bloggers like this: