McMafia makes chilling TV. But the reality is even worse

There are many gripping moments in McMafia, the BBC’s lavish new television drama featuring Russian oligarchs and organised crime. Who knew that a caviar knife could be so deadly? Or that hired killers could run amok in the Home Counties, leaving a bloody message from Moscow all over the tasteful furnishings?

For Russia purists, there are a few quibbles. Would Alex Godman – the British-educated son of a Russian gangster, played by James Norton – really talk to Dad in accent-free English? And where exactly are the bodyguards? They are an obligatory feature of life for any self-respecting Moscow businessman but strangely missing here when their tough-guy skills might come in handy. But the ideas underlying McMafia – taken from the nonfiction book by the journalist Misha Glenny – are surely right. International crime syndicates are able to shift

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