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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Goes After Mobsters

President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a tough anti-gangster law under which so-called thieves-in-law, or traditionalist gangster leaders, could be jailed just for admitting their roles.

“We are talking about individuals who identify themselves with the criminal world and don’t hide this,” Medvedev said during talks with Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin in the Kremlin on Tuesday.

“As I understand it, mere involvement in the criminal community already constitutes a complete legally defined crime and is enough to bring such an individual to criminal punishment,” he said.

Tradition dictates that thieves-in-law never hide their status in the criminal world, including from law enforcement officials.

Medvedev said he had signed amendments to the Criminal Code that envisioned up to life in prison for gangster ringleaders and increased prison terms for people convicted of participating in organized crime.

Medvedev recently unveiled several other initiatives against organized crime, including banning jury trials for organized crime suspects and moving their trials away from the regions where the crimes were committed. These measures, the president argued, would shield judges and juries from pressure from gangster friends of the suspects.

Bastrykin praised the new amendments Tuesday, saying they would boost the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies. “Under this law, we will punish an individual only for his title, for his image, for his position of criminal leader [and] for taking such a status in the criminal hierarchy,” he said.

He said investigators also would be able to target gatherings of gangster leaders, a veiled reference to the funeral of legendary thief-in-law Vyacheslav Ivankov last month. Dozens of criminal bosses openly gathered in a Moscow cemetery in early October to pay their respects to Ivankov, who died from injuries sustained in a July shooting.