What is the Russian Mafia? This unique book thoroughly researches this question and challenges widely-held views. The author charts the emergence of the Russian Mafia in the context of the transition to the market, the privatization of protection and pervasive corruption. The ability of the Russian State to define property rights and protect contracts is compared to the services offered by fragments of the state apparatus, private security firms, ethnic crimegroups, the Cossacks and the Mafia. Past criminal traditions, rituals and norms have been resuscitated by the Mafia of today to forge a powerful new identity and compete in a crowded market for protection. The book draws on and reports of undercover police operations, in-depth interviews conducted overseveral years with the victims of the Mafia, criminals and officials, and documents from the Gulag archives. It also provides a comparative study, making references to other Mafia (the Japanese Yakuza, the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, American-Italian Mafia and the Hong Kong Triads).