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Deck of Cards Featuring Faces of Russian Mafia Members released in the US

By Institute for Russian Research

NEW YORK, May 10, 2013 -- /PRNewswire/ -- A deck of cards featuring the faces of key figures in the Russian mafia has been produced in the US. The publisher of the deck of cards, the Institute for Russian Research, intends to use this deck to raise awareness among law enforcers, legislators, and the media, of the fact that the Russian mafia is playing a very significant role in crime in the US as well as the rest of the world, and its significance is very likely to grow as the capital flight from Russia (comprising proceeds of crime, embezzlement, and corruption) intensifies. The deck of cards will be updated and reprinted annually, the publishers say.
The Russian Mafia deck of cards includes both criminals well known to police and the public and those who have been able to keep a low profile. For example, the ace of diamonds – Semion Mogilevich, a former leader of the Solntsevo Organized Crime Group, one of Russia's most infamous, a citizen of three nations on police wanted lists in four different countries. Mogilevich is on the FBI list of ten most wanted criminals and is believed to be the main leader of the Russian mafia globally. The deck includes Tevfik Arif as the queen of clubs, a former official with the Soviet Trade Ministry who has moved to the US to become a construction magnate and an underground head of a money-laundering network involved in financing terrorist groups in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. Arif was arrested in 2010 for allegedly organizing a prostitution ring. The deck also includes characters like illegal arms trader Viktor Bout, notorious Russian-American Mafioso Monya Elson, and others. More than half of those featured on the cards (48 people total) are in the US, around 15% are based in Spain.
"Russian mafia has become an international phenomenon, a significant player in the criminal world, and it has an impact on the US society. We believe that the Russian mafia deck of cards will shine a spotlight on this issue and foster further dialog," Michael Zvonov, an expert with the Institute for Russian Research, the deck publisher, says. "The Russian mafia performs most of its transactions in US dollars, for historical reasons, as well as because of its active involvement with South American cartels, which also rely on USD as their main transaction currency. So it is only natural for the Russian mafia to expand its presence in the US, where it can most easily put their USD assets to work," Zvonov adds. 
"The deck doesn't include sixes," the publishers point out. "This is intentional: a 'six' is one of the worst insults among the Russian mafia, and we wanted to avoid smearing anyone with a pariah status."
An online version of the Russian Mafia deck of cards is available online at www.russianmafiacards.com, including additional details of each criminal shown on the cards. The deck of the Russian criminal world will be sent to the FBI, to police departments of cities with large Russian-speaking communities and to the US Congress.

Institute for Russian Research http://russiainstitute.org www.russianmafiacards.com Michael Zvonov mz@russiainstitute.org (646) 583-3323