mafia power play
Join the Discussion: Do you think the Russian Mafia is influencing hockey games?  Or are they just establishing a presence in North America?
navigation, see below for text


Dear FRONTLINE,

Not only did I find your report credible from a sociological viewpoint, I find likewise disturbing the number of persons who deny the obvious (ostrich head in the sand syndrome) because they hero-worship these fallible hockey players. The camera doesn't slander a person who implicates himself. Whereas hockey by design is a fantastic sport, from both a player and a spectator perspective, the NHL can't hope to compete for viewership with Baseball and the NFL while its ineptitude more closely resembles the seedy side of boxing.

glendale, arizona


Dear FRONTLINE,

One sided material with a very clear agenda to come up with a 'shocking' conclusion of indisputable connection between the players and the mafia. Now I understand why in movies or documentaries about the italian mafia they use so many italian words - to impress and to make the material seem more credible. It is interesting to note how people's reactions differ in this discussion - Russians seem to be disgusted with 'poor journalism', while North Americans are facsinated and terrified by the report. I guess the author must have reached his goal then...

Michael Gamazaychikov
columbia, md


Dear FRONTLINE,

We've all seen that smirk. That's the immature look which never got past our parents, teachers, and clergy. It's time for someone, the FBI or whoever, to wipe that smirk off Pavel Bure's face and nail him for what he's doing wrong in this world.

belleville, michigan


Dear FRONTLINE,

The interviews you held with Vyachislav Fetisov and Pavel Bure were totally rediculous. I find it amusing that you would try to slander 2 of the many excellent Russian players that have and are sharing thier talent in the NHL. What would possibly drive you to ask such stupid questions to 2 great players that can hardly speak english...much less understand what you were asking them. I know people....some are good....some are bad....but if they are criminals....am I? Slava and Pavel are not just heros in Russia. They are heros to the millions of AMERICAN NHL FANS here in the U.S.A. Are we criminals, too? Perhaps when researching a story....and using (slandering) such great people's names...you should start with the headline "Next, on Frontline: How we can try to make a story out of nothing at all." Be ashamed. You are not worthy enough to lick these players/ex-players/assistant coaches boots,err, skates.

Kevin Anderson
st. marys, georgia


Dear FRONTLINE,

Your website is well organised and informative! The recent broadcast on the Russian mob in the NHL was pathetic. The most interesting aspect of the report was that it apparently took ten months to research and compile. What an astonishing waste of resources. I reccommend that PBS re-evaluate the quality of their broadcasts before they are cleared to air. This report was offensive and completely transparent.

It appears obvious that FRONTLINE has it's own 'non-objective' line to tow. FRONTLINE should thank John Morse and Peter Grinenko for their appropriate insights.

Kolya Malloff
vancouver, bc


Dear FRONTLINE,

Russian mafia links to the NHL are almost as bad as the NHL's disingenuous lawyer-spokesman. What an excellent poster-boy for contempt of lawyers.

Bill Bennett
tehachapi, california


Dear FRONTLINE,

I agree with some of the comments about withholding judgment until all the evidence is in, etc., but after carefully listening to and reading some of the weak explanations by NHL players, officials and Russian "businessmen," there is obviously something rotten in Denmark.

How many "coincidences" and "cozy" relationships must exist before the NHL really starts to take this threat seriously? Please don't let them spoil such a pure sport.

Tyler Paetkau
san francisco, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

I was appalled at the arrogance and blindness of those interveiwed during this report. They seem to believe that no one can touch them, that they somehow are above the law. I hope that there is continued and increased pressure from all levels of law enforcement.

The lawyer representing the NHL appeared to be defensive, not because the reporter was tough or unfair, but because he avoided answering some proof laden questions. The answers he provided were vague and were meant to give an appearance of "nothings wrong in my house". Give me a break.

The lawyer is protecting the interests of those who employ him. The owners and Gary Bettman. Kind of reminds me of the "Black Sox". The foxes gaurding the hen house.

As for the report "He shoots, He scores!"

calgary, alberta


Dear FRONTLINE,

As a long suffering Ranger fan, (except for 1994 when Zubov, and Kovalev helped us win The Stanley Cup), I can only now see why The Ranger braintrust traded away some of their most talented players. Could it be that they were too close to the Brighton Beach connection? Also the sudden disapperance of Alexander Karpotsev after his mothers death in Russia during the playoffs makes me wonder if that was some kind of message being sent to all players from Russia.

Of course this could all be a rebirth of the coldwar paranoia of the early sixties which I was raised with. Was the 1980 U.S. Olympic victory at Lake Placid a dive by the Soviet Union to take the heat off them for the invasion of Afghanistan? All I know was I saw the U.S. team totally dominated at Madison Square Garden a few weeks before the Olympics. A member of that team was the Great Slava Fetisov. Was the post Stanley cup accident involving the Russian members of the Detroit RedWings really a Russian Mob hit gone awry?

I know I sound like Mel Gibson's character in "Conspiracy Theory" but let's think about all this. Of course The Rangers have seen fit to sign Valery Kamensky for this year's team although he is out with a mysterious arm injury right now.One other theory from my late father- Jackie O was the lone gunman in the kennedy assassination- let's go back to that Zapruder film. Hey was he Russian too?

Henry Baltera
bronx, n.y.


Dear FRONTLINE,

This is one of the best and scariest reports I have ever seen on Frontline. The extent to which the Russian state has fallen under the spell of organized crime is perhaps the biggest security issue in the world today.

The NHL is in over its head on this issue; the governments of the US and Canada need to become involved in resolving the crisis.

milwaukee, mn


Dear FRONTLINE,

AS the young NHL player said "you will never understand that Russian mentality". Before you throw stones at these young players try to be in their shoes (or skates). They know how ruthless Russian ciminals can be, they are thousands of miles away from their families who are very vulnerable. Not to defend Russian criminals, but to better understand how and who actually decides who is a member of Russian Mafia? Is it the corrupt militia? the corrupt polititians? is it some clerk in Washington? a journalist who never met a Russian, let alone a Russian criminal? your program labels people because "somebody said" he is a criminal. Your translations were very misleading and not acurate (fabricated). The best part is allowing the FBI (in USA) to determin who are the real members of the "Russian Mafia"in Moscow. The first FBI agent assigned to Moscow was George Shukin not James Moody. Try to understand that for 70 years what Russians considered crime we in the west called it good business, the face of crime is as diferent and as far apart as the continents. Your program sensationalized "Russian Mafia" with a lot of half truths, innuendos and lies. You have done a disservice to PBS, and the Russian people who see this program.

Peter Grinenko
new york, new york


Dear FRONTLINE,

The essence of your report is that nothing is proven against anyone, least of all the Russian hockey players. Yet, Frontline clearly expects the NHL to hold those players accountable on the basis of accusations alone. In particular, I did not approve of the attack-dog journalism of the reporter to who snapped at the NHL spokesman, saying that "there is nothing hypothetical" about Bore's relationship to the Russian businessman accused of mafia ties. In fact, everything about their relationship remains hypothetical, since Frontline did not prove anything beyond the fact that the two men socialize together. I must also add that snapping at interviewees is bound to startle them, and make them look defensive, but that is just bullying, not journalism. And I must ask, after Frontline put so much weight on the promotional poster featuring the two men together, why did they not ask Bure about it in the interview? If you believed that the poster proves a business relationship, why ask him about it? Of course, if you had, you would have given him a opportunity to offer an innocent explanation, such as friendship, or being paid a one-time fee for doing the advertisement. Instead we are left only with Frontline's innuendo. That is poor reporting indeed.

John Morse
arlington, ma


Dear FRONTLINE,

I very definitely think the NHL has got to be worried about who it's players associate with. I also wasn't convinced that Bure isn't going to be a power broker in the future when his hockey career is finished. He could very well be the first of many generations intending to exploit the game of hockey through the players and the inevitable connections a player of his calibre is going to make here in North America as well as Russia. It's clear to me that these players have to relinquish their ties and associations with any criminal elements or lose their visas and any future in Canada or the U.S. If we don't nip this in the bud right now we may be finding ourselves in the same position as Russia and end up with a problem that is beyond our control to eradicate at a later time.

edmonton, alberta


Dear FRONTLINE,

My thoughts about the report: Very interesting! It is easy to forget about the mafia's influence on events in Russia and the United States. My relationship with Russians has been purly social and intellectual based mainly on the internet. We Americans cannot imagine what a different world it is over there. I traveled to Odessa, Ukraine in the spring of 1998 and was awaken by stark contrasts there. Your report makes me ponder the possibility of how much my visit was influenced by organized crime. Very thought provoking.

Should the NHL be concerned about who its players associate with off the ice: As a Russian would say "Kanyeshna" (of course). Are the players here for hockey? That is what they need to know. The league owes it to the fans to keep the sport fair. To all the businessmen legal and illegal, I just want to say this, "Justice is mine", you will get exactly what you deserve.

lead, south dakota


Dear FRONTLINE,

It dissappoints me to think that these talented young men find a need to associate with the worst that society has to offer. I grew up watching hockey and looking up to professional atheletes as heros, much the same way my son's do today. It is a shame that this image has been so tarnished. Additionally I think that the NHL should make a move and do the right thing...It sounds as if they are protecting the players that are ruining their good name.

Scott MacDonald
clarksville, tennessee



home |interviews |russian mob in north america |details expose |ivankov: taking a closer look |video excerpt |join the discussion
glossary |links |who's who |tapes & transcripts |synopsis |press

FRONTLINE |pbs online |wgbh

New Content Copyright 1999 PBS Online and WGBH/FRONTLINE


../talk/ ../details/ ../mafia/ ../interviews/ ../
SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

The Rise of ISISOctober 28th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS