Is there a looming Russian crime threat to the Czech Republic?

I’m always cautious about high-blown warnings of impending gang wars, mafia “invasions” (Federico Varese has competently and comprehensively dismantled much of the mythology about that) and the like.

Nonetheless, I am getting alarmed by the possibility that the changing dynamics above all of drug trafficking through Russia — the rise of the “northern route” for Afghan heroin — is going to encourage Russian gangs into a renewed push into Central Europe in general, and the Czech Republic in particular. The 1990s saw the rise of Russian and other post-Soviet gangs there, a rise which was checked and reversed. While they were tamed, though, they did not disappear and they have the contacts, wealth and infrastructure to be able to re-establish a more powerful and dangerous role for themselves. As I expound in a piece in today’s Prague Post:

Ultimately, the unavoidable logic of the market means the Russians are coming. Afghan heroin is reshaping the Russian underworld, creating winners who want to establish trafficking routes through the Czech Republic, losers who are being pushed west into Central Europe and profits that need to be invested. The question is how Prague prepares itself to deter or deal with its future guests.

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