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... After five and a half years of carnage and chaos, the Yugoslav Army (VJ) is tattered and demoralised; its officers have lost the enormous prestige which the old Yugoslavia showered on its predecessor, the Yugoslav National Army (JNA). The Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, has carried out regular purges of the generals and colonels, blaming the Army for defeats in Bosnia and Croatia, even as the outside world excoriates it for the massacres that took place during the wars in both places ...

Here We Go Again

Misha Glenny, 9 March 1995

... The glistening heads of surface-to-surface missile systems are peeping out from behind their covers after three years of virtually uninterrupted hibernation. Their svelte nozzles are being tickled again by the Croatian/Krajina-Serb/ex-Yugoslav sun, whose dancing rays they would mask in an acrid haze. Their merry operators in smart khaki jackets wave and smile ...

How Tudjman won the war

Misha Glenny, 4 January 1996

The Death of Yugoslavia 
by Allan Little and Laura Silber.
Penguin, 400 pp., £6.99, September 1995, 0 14 024904 4
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... Medals and mementoes from a successful Gulf War adorn almost every corridor and room at the headquarters of the US Army’s First Armoured Division in Bad Kreuznach, a charming little spa town in Rheinland Pfalz. Considered one of the toughest and most effective branches of the American military, the ‘Old Ironsides’ excelled itself in the deserts of Kuwait ...


Misha Glenny, 9 May 1996

Black Sea 
by Neal Ascherson.
Cape, 306 pp., £17.99, July 1995, 0 224 04102 9
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... In the late Twenties, the paternal grandfather of Dimitri, a close friend of mine from Thessaloniki, decided to leave Novorossisk, the Russian Black Sea port. The Soviet Government had ended the NEP, the experiment with small-time capitalism that would be replaced by the Five-Year Plan and collectivisation. The growing pressure of Stalinism persuaded him that the business skills which he had acquired in Istanbul and Trebizond would be better employed in Greece ...

Mobsters get homesick too

Misha Glenny: ‘Mafias on the Move’, 30 June 2011

Mafias on the Move: How Organised Crime Conquers New Territories 
by Federico Varese.
Princeton, 278 pp., £24.95, March 2011, 978 0 691 12855 9
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... Robert Friedman’s Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America came out in 2000. Two years before that, in June 1998, he received a phone call from Mike McCall, an FBI agent. McCall warned him that his investigation into Russian organised crime was proving dangerous. ‘I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings,’ McCall said, ‘but a major Russian organised crime figure has taken out a contract on your life ...

Dress Rehearsals

Misha Glenny, 17 July 1997

Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood: Passages to Nation hood in Greek Macedonia, 1870-1990 
by Anastasia Karakasidou.
Chicago, 264 pp., $38, June 1997, 0 226 42493 6
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... Eighteen months ago Cambridge University Press shocked the publishing and academic worlds by pulling Anastasia Karakasidou’s book from their list. They claimed that publication could endanger the security of their associates in Greece, not to mention the house’s commercial interests there. A Greek anthropologist working in the United States, Karakasidou had been the target of a campaign waged in the Greek media by nationalists who claimed that her work on issues of identity in Aegean Macedonia was heretical and even treacherous ...

Into the Wild

Misha Glenny: The Dark Net, 19 March 2015

The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld 
by Jamie Bartlett.
Heinemann, 303 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 434 02315 8
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... My first encounter​ with the dark net was in Rio de Janeiro in 2006. I was interviewing a public prosecutor about the changing nature of organised crime in Brazil. His office was in Barra, an affluent residential area in the west of the city, where one would expect prosecutors to be mostly occupied with crimes against property. He pulled out a file and explained, despairingly, that he had been working on the case for more than a year ...

Getting it wrong

Misha Glenny, 24 February 1994

In Europe’s Name 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Cape, 680 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 224 02054 4
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... Last November, I returned to Berlin for the first time since the Wall came down. I had first lived there for six months in 1979. Within days of my arrival I’d been lucky to be accepted into a Wohngemeinschaft, an institution which hovers between flat-sharing and communal life. The apartment was in SO 36, the heart of Kreuzberg, which at that time was notorious for its punk and squatter culture ...

Only in the Balkans

Misha Glenny: The Balkans Imagined, 29 April 1999

Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination 
by Vesna Goldsworthy.
Yale, 254 pp., £19.95, May 1998, 0 300 07312 7
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Imagining the Balkans 
by Maria Todorova.
Oxford, 270 pp., £35, June 1997, 9780195087505
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... Kosovo,’ the Prime Minister tells us, ‘is on the doorstep of Europe.’ The province, we learn, is situated near countries like Greece and Italy with which British people are very familiar from their holidays. This is why we cannot stand idly by and watch the Serbs perpetrating atrocities on Albanian civilians. Why exactly, though? Because it might interfere with our package holiday arrangements? Or because it is on the doorstep of Europe? What is the doorstep of Europe and why is Kosovo outside the house? It can hardly be barred for geographical reasons ...

How to Buy Drugs

Misha Glenny and Callum Lang, 7 November 2019

... In​ early February this year, what appeared to be a website glitch sent thousands of drugs-buyers into a panic. Liam (not his real name), a student at Manchester University, needed to buy some MDMA for the weekend’s big party. So he did what he had been doing for the last two years: he opened up the Tor browser to get on to the dark web, and typed in the address for Dream Market, the world’s biggest and most dependable source of illegal drugs ...

Not Just the Money

Mattathias Schwartz: Cybermafia, 5 July 2012

DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia 
by Misha Glenny.
Vintage, 432 pp., £8.95, July 2012, 978 0 09 954655 9
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... find the weird and get weirder. In the case of DarkMarket, one of the rogue message boards that Misha Glenny writes about, the bad found the bad and got even worse. Glenny’s story takes the form of a police procedural, set in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. His shifting band of hackers and unscrupulous ...

The Numbers Game

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro: Favelas, 21 January 2016

Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio 
by Misha Glenny.
Bodley Head, 352 pp., £18.99, September 2015, 978 1 84792 266 3
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... million of Rio’s 6.3 million inhabitants live in some 760 favelas. This is the stage on which Misha Glenny sets his extraordinary book, Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio, a biography of Antônio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, known as Nem, a drug don in Rocinha, now serving a 16-year sentence in a maximum security prison. ...


Neal Ascherson: Organised Crime, 3 July 2008

McMafia: Crime without Frontiers 
by Misha Glenny.
Bodley Head, 432 pp., £20, April 2008, 978 0 224 07503 9
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... presided over the total criminalisation of the Ukrainian government and civil service’. As Misha Glenny says, the rule of the great Karabas recalled the pre-1917 Odessa described by Isaac Babel, with its cast of fabled Jewish gangsters, such as Benya Krik, with his car-horn that played ‘Laugh, Clown, Laugh!’ Karabas was not a Jew, but fitted ...

Demonising Nationalism

Tom Nairn, 25 February 1993

... in the obvious sense that, even if some worst-possible-case scenario were to unfold – what Misha Glenny calls a ‘Third Balkan War’ or a Russo-Ukrainian war over the Crimea, or the break-up of the Indian state, or whatever – the consequences would not, by the standards of 1948 to 1988, be all that serious. Nobody would have to worry about ...

A Man or a Girl’s Blouse?

Jeremy Harding: Serbia after Karadzic, 14 August 2008

... in top-dollar sanctions-busting, smuggling, political assassination and paramilitary levies. As Misha Glenny explains in McMafia,* nationalism was a sound business proposition as much as an ideology. The presence of the SPS in government has jogged a few memories about how well it once did. Russia’s role in all this is less inflected. A supportive ...

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