Public Radio of Armenia
Is there Armenian mafia in Germany or labeling the criminal groups a “mafia" is an exaggeration? The issue has been widely discussed over the past weeks after the German Der Spiegel and public broadcaster Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (Central German Broadcasting, MDR) published a report on Armenian “mafia groups,” accusing professional boxers Karo Murat and Artur Abraham and the latter’s brother, as well as the Armenian Ambassador to Germany of ties with those groups.
Der Spiegel correspondent Maik Baumgärtner, co-author of the report, says the investigation will continue and does not rule out that more high-ranking officials could be named in the case.
Speaking to Public Radio of Armenia, he denied the claims that the reports have been published under any influence.
“Don’t worry. There has been no pressure from the German government or that of any other country. No one is forcing us to report anything the way we do,” Baumgärtner said.
He refrained from any comments on Armenian Ambassador Ashot Smbatyan’s involvement, as a district court in Berlin has warned the media outlets to stop spreading any allegations concerning the diplomat. For each case of the infringement, the court has imposed a fine of up to € 250,000 or a custodial sentence of up to six months.
Maik Baumgärtner insists that the Armenian mafia exists and refers to the 67-page report on the results of a three-year joint investigation by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and six state criminal investigation offices in Germany dubbed FATIL (Fight against thieves in law).
Meanwhile, the BKA report acquired by Public Radio of Armenia, which presents the overall criminal situation in Germany in 2016-2017, makes no reference to “Armenian mafia.” Although the results of 2018 have not been summed up, the report shows no growth in the number of crimes involving Armenians.
According to the document, six criminal cases were initiated against Armenians involved in organized crime in the reporting period. A total of 42 people were investigated for financial reasons, including on suspicion of money laundering.
Maik Baumgärtner insists that the BKA report is general and includes no details, while their report is based on “multiple sources,” which they cannot disclose.
Chairman of the Armenian Academic Society of Germany Azat Ordujkhanyan is confident that had there been serious grounds, the federal law-enforcement bodies would not hesitate to take concrete steps.
He believes “there are stakeholders behind the report interested in keeping the issue on the agenda.”
German journalist, longstanding editor-in-chief for Deutsche Welle Christopher Lanz says “if you stop anyone in the street in Germany and ask whether Armenians are mafiosi, they will be surprised.”
According to him, organized crime is definitely a problem in Germany, but it can be hardly described as “mafia.” Moreover, crimes committed by Armenians are not the biggest problem in Germany. The Arab, Turkish and Chechen clans are the biggest issue, he said.
Christopher Lanz insists “Armenian mafia is not topic in Germany." Therefore, he says, the reports German media outlets could be based on allegations or be part of “Sex & Crime” series.