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15 Mar, 2010 10:48

Massive mafia crackdown in Europe

Dozens are reported detained in several European countries in a major crackdown on Georgian mafia activity.

The large-scale operation sponsored by Spanish police ended with at least 69 people interned, according to an AFP report.

Some 24 suspected mobsters have been detained in Spain itself, mostly in Catalonia and Valencia, while at least 45 others have been held by officers in France, Austria, Italy, Germany and Switzerland.

Spanish media report that many of the detainees are members of organized crime syndicates, who are accused of various crimes, including money laundering, drug trafficking and corruption. It is reported that mafia consisted not only of Georgians but also of suspects from several post-Soviet republics.

Initial reports, however, erroneously suggested that those detained belonged to the so-called Russian mafia – an assumption that may have stemmed from the fact that people from former Soviet states are often referred to as Russians in the West.

Independent political analyst Leonid Radzihovsky shared his opinion of what he thinks is unjust about such misconceptions.

When we talk about achievements by people from former Soviet states, such as Georgia or Ukraine, be it Eurovision or Olympic achievements, no one says that Russians did it,” says Radzihovsky. “But when a criminal in such a country is arrested, everyone says it is the Russian mafia and that is how Russia’s image is shaped."