Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 85

Testifying before Congress yesterday, the directors of the CIA and FBI warned that organized crime in Russia threatens political and economic reform there while posing ever more serious problems here in the United States for law enforcement agencies. According to FBI director Louis Freeh, Russian criminal groups now operating in the United States are involved in money laundering, embezzlement, extortion, murder, drug trafficking, prostitution, and the manipulation of banks. The FBI, he added, currently has two agents stationed in Moscow handling some 300 cases; a third has been requested.

CIA director John Deutch said that while Russian criminal groups undoubtedly have the potential to traffic in materials of mass destruction, to date there is no evidence of cooperation between Russian criminals and terrorist groups or rogue states. "We have no data indicating that a nuclear weapon or a significant quantity of fissile material has ever been stolen from Russia," he said. He described law enforcement agencies in Russia as understaffed, underfunded, and plagued by corruption. But the U.S. continues to support Russian president Boris Yeltsin, Deutch said, adding that he believes that the Yeltsin government can survive Russia’s crime problems. (Reuter, April 30)

Yeltsin on NATO, War in Chechnya.