Cultural Revolutions

The Zhukov-Sintez Affair

Aleksandr Zhukov's April 7 arrest in Sardinia was played up by the Italian DIA (an anti-Mafia investigative unit) as having eliminated an important arms-trafficking channel to the war-torn Balkans. The most intriguing aspect of the story, however, involves NATO, the struggle between Russia and the West for influence in the former Soviet republics, and the role of former Ukrainian Premier Marchuk and the Russian mafia in the affair.

Zhukov, a Russian millionaire with a British passport and residences in Sardinia, London, Kiev, and Tel Aviv, was charged with illegally trafficking arms to the Balkans in the mid-1990's, allegedly using his Sintez corporation and various front companies to reap (and launder) the profits from arms sales to the Croats during their bloody conflict with the Serbs. DIA officials also claim that some of the weapons wound up in the hands of the Italian Mafia.

According to European and Russian press accounts, Zhukov's Sintez company grew out of a perestroika-era Soviet cooperative, one that was either founded or co-opted by the KGB to engage in the arms trade, setting up offshore companies to launder the profits, as well as sell crude oil. In fact, Anatoli Fedorenko, an ex-KGB officer from Kiev, and Ceza Mezosy, an Hungarian living in Belgium, were arrested last year for their role in the weapons-trade shell game, and DIA spokesmen are now claiming that Fedorenko was the Sintez...

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