The “death porn” of Russian mafiya reporting

I just wanted briefly to note a nice piece on Russian organised crime in the latest Financial Times Magazine. Moscow bureau chief Charles Clover writes about the role of gangsters in modern Russia and tries, but regrettably (if perhaps predictably) doesn’t get to dig deep into the case of Aslan Usoyan, ‘Ded Khasan.’ However, he does have some very acute observations about the “death porn” (his words) around Russian reporting of mob hits, part of an interestingly ambiguous and “oddly reverential attitude” they have for their gangsters:

In what has become almost a ritual, a high level razborka, or execution, will invariably lead the evening news. Announcers dwell lovingly on the details of the murder weapon, the getaway route, the model of Mercedes or Maybach that the victim was driving. Then comes the grainy CCTV footage or mobile phone photos of the deceased slumped over his steering wheel or prone outside the entrance to a lap-dancing club.

Within 24 hours, television stations will have produced computer simulations of the attack, complete with CGI-style graphics. Ballistics experts will be discussing the properties of the weapons used and any cool gadgets involved in the operation. Footage will follow of balaclava-clad police commandoes kicking in doors and cuffing men with abnormally thick necks and lots of tattoos and scars; mugshots of the enemies of the victim, their mob aliases (“Tomato”, “Pussycat”, “Little Japanese”) and their possible motives.

Of course, I am unashamedly a consumer and sometimes purveyor of such salacious stuff, so I am hardly passing any moral judgement. But Clover has the “the drama, gore, technological geekery, secret service acronyms and luxury branding, which accompany the typical Russian mafia hit” exactly right.

 

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