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The Daily Vertical: Swindlers, Thieves, And Wise Guys (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

Remember the party of swindlers and thieves? Of course you do.

About five years ago, opposition leader Aleksei Navalny branded the ruling United Russia party with that moniker in the run-up to the 2011 State Duma elections.

And now, Spanish law enforcement is showing us that the label is probably even more appropriate than anybody suspected.

In fact, it could even be updated to the party of swindlers, thieves, and wise guys.

WATCH: Today's Daily Vertical

Police in the Spanish port city of Tarragona have detained at least six Russian citizens believed to be connected to the infamous Tambovskaya Gruppirovka -- the Tambov organized crime group -- on suspicion of money laundering.

They are also suspected of establishing contacts with Colombian drug cartels.

And according to Spanish media reports, the suspected gangsters are believed to have held meetings with leading members of United Russia.

It's just another in a long series of data points linking Russia's rulers to the mob.

It was just a couple of months ago, after all, that Spanish Judge Jose de la Mata issued international arrest warrants for a dozen reputed Russian organized crime figures and several current and former government officials.

Among these were a senior Interior Ministry official, the deputy head of the State Duma's Finance Committee, and a former deputy prime minister.

Putin's Kremlin has long had a devil's bargain with Russia's nationalized mafias.

The regime tolerates them, and even enables them, as long as they're ready to do the dirty deeds the Kremlin wants to keep its fingerprints off -- be it arms smuggling, assassinations, raising funds for black ops, or stirring up trouble in the former Soviet space.

Just something to keep in mind amid all the calls for a return to business as usual.

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