Misha Glenny

Misha Glenny is the author of McMafia and DarkMarket.

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...

Into the Wild: The Dark Net

Misha Glenny, 19 March 2015

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...

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.’ Reporting conflicts like those in Yugoslavia or Sierra Leone was a risky business for journalists in the post-Cold War world, but nobody expected that they would start getting whacked by foreign mafia hitmen in the middle of New York or London.

‘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?‘

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. The heroic exploits of Serbia’s soldiers and Tito’s Partisans in the First and Second World Wars are forgotten, embedded in a history which has been obscured by the bloodshed of half a decade. Now that the Army is penniless, sitting on stocks of rusting weaponry and outmoded ordnance, even senior officers have begun to sign petitions protesting against their ever thinner wage packets. Milosevic ignores the military’s advice. During last year’s anti-Government demonstrations, sustained for more than three months, he warned the VJ leadership to keep its nose out of politics. For the first time, the VJ’s younger officers expressed support for Milosevic’s opponents, even promising that they would uphold the democratic rights of ordinary citizens. This was taken at the time to mean that part of the Army would support the opposition in any confrontation with forces loyal to the President. Milosevic’s growing suspicion of the Army has led him to rely instead on his personal retinue – the vastly expanded police force comprising 60-70,000 well-armed and well-paid men.’

Dress Rehearsals

Misha Glenny, 17 July 1997

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. These imbecilic claims were made at the height of the hysteria, encouraged by members of the Greek Government, which greeted the creation of an independent Macedonian state in the wake of Yugoslavia’s collapse.


Misha Glenny, 9 May 1996

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 smalltime 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. He succeeded in moving to Drama.

How Tudjman won the war

Misha Glenny, 4 January 1996

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. Yet from Major-General William Nash, the commanding officer, down through the ranks, there is little appetite for testing this reputation in the mud and slush of Bosnia-Hercegovina.

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. Rhetoric is sharpening. Muscles are being flexed. Guns are being cleaned. Yes, that point in the historical cycle has come round again – a little earlier than expected. The Croats and Serbs are preparing to go to war. If it happens this time, however, the results will be catastrophic.

Getting it wrong

Misha Glenny, 24 February 1994

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. My bedroom window looked out over the River Spree and beyond onto the quiet uniformity of die Zone; der russisehe Sektor: Berlin (Ost); or Berlin, die Hauptstadt der DDR, depending on your ideological perspective.


Winners and Losers

4 January 1996

Misha Glenny writes: When I said that the Croats win and the Serbs lose, I was using the Dayton Agreement rather loosely to refer to the overall settlement of the wars in both Bosnia and Croatia – which I assumed, clearly erroneously, was obvious from the context.Tudjman had three war aims: to secure international recognition of Croatia (tick); to end the Serbian question in Croatia (tick); and...

The Numbers Game: Favelas

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, 21 January 2016

In Rio de Janeiro​ in the 1950s, we barely noticed the shacks on the sides of Two Brothers Mountain, which would later become the favela of Rocinha – barely noticed them at least from the...

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Not Just the Money: Cybermafia

Mattathias Schwartz, 5 July 2012

Message boards are online forums typically concerned with a single subject, whose users can post public messages in ‘threads’ to do with a particular aspect of that subject, or...

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Gazillions: Organised Crime

Neal Ascherson, 3 July 2008

In the courtyard of Steam Baths Number Four, on Astashkina Street in Odessa, there are two marble plaques with bunches of flowers laid on the ground beneath them. The first is engraved with the...

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