In the Mafia

Letter From Palermo

A friend of mine just got arrested for arms dealing. From whom he was buying the arms, to whom he was selling them, or, indeed, whether he ever bought or sold any, I haven't the slightest idea. But the raid, by the Italian police and intelligence, on Sasha Zhukov's five-million dollar villa in Piccolo Romazzino, on Sardinia's Costa Smeralda, made front page news in London and in the Italian papers. It was in London, in fact, that we had first met, and a year later, Sasha came out to a dinner party in Venice in the company of his fiancée, a rather glamorous Miss Greece. (Too thin for my taste, mind you, but then again, with the Greeks, time is on your side.)

We were introduced by Galya Berezovskaya, whose ex, the Russian entrepreneur Boris Berezovsky, keeps an apartment in the same fortified enclave on London's embassy row where Sasha has a penthouse overlooking Kensington Palace. Bv way of a brief digression, the reader may as well hear what the vituperative Doubting Thomas and bilious helpmate of White Counterrevolution, the so-called writer and self-styled nonconformist Navrozov, is doing running around with people of that peculiar stripe. Would Louis Farrakhan choose to dine with his natural enemies? Would Norman Podhoretz pay for dinner? Is there no such thing as principle?

The answer is that, in the early 1980's, when Andropov's secret-police apparatus relaunched Beria's...

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