Moscow Madness: Crime, Corruption and One Man's Pursuit of Profit in the New Russia

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9780070267008: Moscow Madness: Crime, Corruption and One Man's Pursuit of Profit in the New Russia

This is the story of Rick Grajirena and his efforts to import and distribute Miller Beer in a land where capitalism is as capricious and corrupt as the bureaucrats, soldiers, hustlers, and ever-present "Mafiya" he had to include in the process. It is an entertaining and highly enlightening tale of vision and persistence that has a little bit of everything -- crime, cross-cultural confusion, corruption at the highest levels -- all inter-twined with Harper's dramatic account of Grajirena's struggle to dominate the new "Wild West" of Russia.

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Review:

Moscow Madness is an exciting tale about the insanity of doing business behind the old Iron Curtain. Timothy Harper tells the true story of Richard Grajirena, an American who sets up a Miller beer distribution company in Moscow. While Russia was thirsty for his beer, Grajirena becomes overwhelmed by the craziness of doing business there in the early 1990s. In Russia's evolving capitalism, he discovers "it is almost impossible for small businesses to survive the pressure of contradictory laws and regulations, bureaucracy and criminals."

Grajirena, a former world-class yachtsman, wanted to become rich in post-Communist Russia. Instead, he gets victimised by the black market, corrupt customs agents, wild swings in currency- exchange rates, skyrocketing taxes and fees and the Russian mob. His business collapses after he refuses to pay outright bribes or deal with organised crime. Harper writes, "Grajirena was astonished and frightened by the reach of the "mafiya" and the gang lords relying on thugs who were happy to commit casual mayhem for a few American dollars. They used violence and intimidation to turn central Moscow into a version of gangland Chicago in the Capone era." Released 10 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, this book offers some excellent insights for investors and others interested in Russia's struggle with free enterprise. --Dan Ring, Amazon.com

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