McMafia author Misha Glenny on his book, inspiration and organised crime

McMafia author Misha Glenny on his book, inspiration and organised crime

McMafia is one of the main water-cooler topics of the week (BBC/Cuba Pictures/Nick Wall)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The author of McMafia has revealed how he came up with the title, what inspired him to research Russia and the Soviet Union and what he thinks needs to be done to stop organised crime.

BBC drama McMafia tells the story of Alex Godman, the son of Russian mafia exiles, and is based on a book with the same title written by Misha Glenny, which reveals what happens in international organised crime.

Glenny told Julia Hartley-Brewer his father was "a Russian specialist" and when he was a child "we were showered with Russian culture or at least there were lots of books" so that's where he got his interest in Russia and the Soviet Union.

He also revealed where he got the name McMafia, he explained that The Chechen Mafia "were selling their name to Mafia groups all across Russia so you would pay to be able to call yourself The Chechen Mafia.

"You had to do two things: you had to pay money for the name, but you also had to maintain the standards of ruthlessness. It was a franchise system. That’s where the idea [comes from], like McDonalds.

"I was talking to the old Russia hand Mark Galeotti and he said 'it’s a sort of McDonalds system'" and he thought "that's a great title."

Glenny thinks "the one thing that we need in order to make life really difficult for organised crime is to introduce laws around the world whereby if you have a bank account you know who the ultimate owner of that money is."

He says this is because people "can open up accounts in the Cayman Islands through some sort of lawyer and there’s no piece of paper which will identify the real criminal...behind that account."

Listen to the full interview above