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Russia: Forgery Ring Helped Wealthy USSR Citizens Gain Greek Citizenship

By Tejinder Singh

Athens, 4 May 1998 (RFE/RL) -- The Athens daily newspaper "Ta Nea," reports a multi-million-dollar crime operation, involving providing forged residence permits, Greek passports and ID cards to wealthy citizens from the former Soviet Union, has been broken up. The newspaper in weekend editions said customers included several reputed Russian mobsters, including one who was even supplied with a forged voting book.

The gang's rate for "legalizing" foreign customers with forged documents ranged to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars each. And, the paper reported that approximately 1,000 people from the former Soviet Union, had been made 'Greek' by the racket.

Police said the criminal operation was alleged run by Russian businessmen in Greece, and included Greek government and local officials.

The paper reported one of the top operatives of the Greek gang was a police lieutenant who was assigned duty in the Aliens Bureau in Pireaus, the port near Athens.

Police said their investigation started a month ago, with the arrest of reputed Russian mobster Vladimir Selivestrof.