A senior Spanish prosecutor told the US Embassy in Madrid that Russia, Belarus and Chechnya had become virtual “mafia states”, new disclosures of classified material by Wikileaks show.
A cable also questions whether Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is implicated in the Russian mafia.
Another reveals that a powerful Ukrainian businessman told US officials he had ties to Russian organised crime.
The documents are among hundreds being released by the whistle-blower website.
On Wednesday the US online shopping giant Amazon reportedly blocked Wikileaks from its servers – a move welcomed by US officials.
Access to Wikileaks’ homepage was sporadic on Wednesday. The website had been using Amazon servers since its Swedish-based servers came under cyber-attack twice earlier this week.
The cables, published by the Guardian newspaper, show that in January 2010, Spanish prosecutor Jose “Pepe” Grinda Gonzales claimed that in Russia, Belarus and Chechnya “one cannot differentiate between the activities of the Government and OC (organised crime) groups”.
Judge Grinda led a long investigation into Russian organised crime in Spain, leading to more than 60 arrests.
A cable from the US Embassy in Madrid talks about the “unanswered question” of the extent to which Mr Putin is implicated in the mafia and whether he controls its actions.
Judge Grinda reportedly said that former Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko thought Russian intelligence controlled organised crime in Russia. Mr Grinda reportedly stated that he believed this thesis was accurate.
In the cable, the judge is reported as saying he has information that certain political parties in Russia operate “hand in hand” with organised crime.
The leaked cables also show that Washington believed Mr Putin was likely to have known about the operation to murder Mr Litvinenko in London in 2006. The Kremlin has denied any involvement.
Wikileaks also released another cable, from the US Embassy in Kiev dated December 2008, which reveals that a Ukrainian businessman with links to the Russia state-run conglomerate Gazprom told the US ambassador he had ties to Russian organised crime.
The Main Leaks So Far
- Fears that terrorists may acquire Pakistani nuclear material
- Several Arab leaders urged attack on Iran over nuclear issue
- US instructs spying on key UN officials
- China’s changing relationship with North Korea
- Yemen approved US strikes on militants
- Personal and embarrassing comments on world leaders
- Fears over Pakistan’s nuclear programme
- Afghan leader Hamid Karzai freed dangerous detainees
He said he had needed the approval of a gangster called Semyon Mogilevich to get into business.
Mogilevich is believed by European and US law enforcement agencies to be the “boss of bosses” of most Russian Mafia syndicates in the world.
BBC diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall says that neither Moscow nor Washington will be happy at being exposed by the latest Wikileaks revelations.
She says the contents of the secret cables will place new strains on their relationship.
In other developments, Interpol has issued a notice asking for information on the whereabouts of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Interpol said the Australian was wanted for questioning in Sweden over an alleged sex offence, which he has denied.
On Wednesday the US appointed an anti-terrorism expert to lead efforts to tackle damage caused by the documents’ release.
Russell Travers will try to find out how thousands of secret files were taken from government internet files. The White House said he had also been tasked with tightening security inside the US government’s computer network.
Wikileaks has so far posted only 505 of the 251,287 messages it says it has obtained. However, all of the messages have been made available to five publications, including the New York Times and the Guardian.
The US has condemned the disclosures as an attack on the world community.