The new head of Russian crime was chosen by a group of thieves in law at a Moscow restaurant at the end of last week. Shishkan, whose real name is Oleg Ramensky and who is now 54, has been near the top of Russian crime since the early 1990s, Moskvin says, when he worked closely with the odious crime figure, “the little Japanese.”
According to the journalist, “the election to a high post in the criminal world of an individual of Slavic origin … is in its own way a revolutionary event” given that in recent years this post was occupied by Yezidi Kurds and given that Shishkan faced competition from two Georgians.
One of these Georgians was eliminated as a candidate when it became clear that he wouldn’t be released from prison in 2019 when his current sentence runs out. Instead, he will be extradited, probably to Spain, where he faces a new trial and likely a new spell behind bars, Moskvin says.
But Shishkan’s election matters. Yevgeny Chernousov, a retired MVD colonel, says it “marks the end of the domination in the [Russian] criminal world of those born in the Caucasus.,” although he points out that the Caucasians always have had close ties with the Russians and vice versa.
“All thieves in law are monitored by law-enforcement organs, the retired policeman says; but it is very difficult to move against them because “they with rare exceptions do not commit crimes with their own hands and people from their immediate circle do not testify against their bosses.”
Nonetheless, other police officials and experts with whom Moskvin spoke, suggest that the Russian authorities are making progress.