Boris Yeltsin once characterized his country as a “Criminal Superpower.” Few would dispute the fact that Russia’s post-Soviet transition has been plagued by unprecedented levels of criminal activity. Consensus quickly breaks down when one tries to identify the underlying causes of that criminality, however. Commentators have proposed a variety of economic, political, and socio-psychological explanations for the phenomenon, ranging from the persuasive to the paranoid; some in the early 1990s even suggested that the rise in Russian crime was actually part of a communist plot. Conspiracy theories aside, the issue remains one of key importance, as answers are not only necessary for Russia in its continuing quest for stability and order, but also provide crucial insights into the recent growth of Eastern European based crime in Western Europe, the United States, and Canada.

Russia: Criminogenic Early Warning and Indicator Survey 1991-1997