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My dad, Tom, is one of the most charming men you'll ever meet. The love of my mom's life. But for 52 years, he was also something else, a wanted fugitive. From Neonhum Media and Sony Music Entertainment, listen to Smokscreen, my fugitive dad. Subscribe on Apple Podcast to binge all episodes now or listen weekly wherever you get your podcasts. If you're enjoying this podcast and you want to hear more from the FT, the FT Edit app gives you eight of the Financial Times' best stories hand-picked daily by our editors. You'll get the perfect daily dose of expert opinion, surprising stories, and fresh perspectives from across politics, culture, business, and more. Start your free one-month trial today, then get your first six months for just 99 P per month, currently only available on iOS. There's a link in the show notes. Previously on Hot Money. Kristy Kinnihan used an exploding European drug market to grow a tiny Dublin heroine hustle into a cocaine empire operating across the continent. In this episode, we learn about a big shift in his criminal strategy. It's a turning point that tells us something new about the evolution of international organized crime, and it happens on The Costa del Sol.


It's early in the morning on May 25th, 2010, and Christy Kinnahans, fast asleep in his bed. He's now living in a quiet neighborhood in Marbea, on the southern Coast of Spain. The streets are lined with white, imperial-style villas, and at this hour, they're empty. Suddenly, police sworn into the property. There's a video of this moment, and it shows armed officers with battering rams dressed in riot gear. Within minutes, he's in handcuffs, face down on his bedroom floor, and still wearing his striped underpants. It would be a pretty bad start to the day for anyone, but it's about to get a lot worse. Over 700 police officers raid companies and residential properties in the UK, Spain, Belgium, Cyprus, Brazil, and Ireland in a joint operation run from command centers in Máliga, London, and Dublin. Hours later, Spain's interior minister speaks to news agency FA. He says they've brought down a mafia that's linked to multiple murders. It's in that moment, Christy pinned to the floor in his pants, surrounded by riot police, that you can imagine he thought, this time the game might finally be up. I'm Miles Johnson, and from the Financial Times and pushkin Industries, this is Hot Money Season 2: The New Narcos.


Episode three: Son, Guns, and Sanria. As far back as the 1960s, the Costa has had this magnetic appeal for two very different types of people. Retirees looking to see out their days under the Spanish sun and hardened gangsters. Think of it as a bit like Florida, but for Brits and Irish people. It's a place where sunburned men play rounds of golf, expats sit in Shamrock-themed pubs, sipping on warm pints of Guinness, or watching soccer matches on plasma TVs. It's also a place where if you've got the money, you can relax in beautiful villas by the pool, mix with minor celebrities and eat in Michelin-starred restaurants. By 2010, this is where Kristy Kinnihan had decided to base his cocaine trafficking business. It wasn't just because he liked the weather. The Costa, it's a bit like Amsterdam, but with more sun and better sangria.


They've got all the lifestyle benefits. They're with other expat, criminals, for want of a better word. It's a great networking opportunity. It's a tactic to put distance between an organized criminal and the markets where they're basically selling their commodities and where the crimes are happening. It becomes a bit of a hub.


Matt Horne recently retired from the UK's National Crime Agency, where he was the Deputy Director of Investigations. He's now a director of Intelligence and investigation at Clue Software. But he started out as a bobby on the beat, dealing with the problems that are typical of any big city:.


Addiction, exploitation, violent crime, robbery, all that thing, which a lot of those have got their roots in things like Class A drugs trade, in firearms trade. Ultimately, behind all of that is organized crime. I became aware of that, I think, at quite an early stage in my career, that actually what was really motivating me and was interesting me most was actually what was sitting behind it. Who are the people that are profiting from this?


In 2006, Matt joined the UK's serious organized crime agency, SOCA. It was the predecessor to the NCA.


Looking to identify who were the subjects of interest that were causing the most harm in.


The UK. When did you come across the.


Kinnahans then? That was at that time. I became aware of them from probably as early as 2006. The information that we were working on and developing intelligence around was their potential involvement in drugs trafficking, firearms, money laundering. The assessment that we were making at the time was that they really were at the top of the tree, rubbing shoulders with really the highest level criminals from other countries doing similar things.


According to police documents, Christy is now moving large loads of cocaine through Europe. He starts raking in more money than ever before. Like all gangsters, if he's going to spend and invest that money, he needs to find a way to launder it because it's not always easy to move dirty cash into the legitimate economy. There are Spanish police reports from the time that give me a fascinating insight into Christie's criminal mind, his business mind, to be more accurate, because he starts to come up with a bunch of pretty creative schemes. One of them involves buying up bits of chicken and pork in Europe and selling them at a profit in China. He tries to get into trading gold in Colombia and buying up land for development near the Amazon in Brazil. Not all of these capers work out. He tries and fails to buy up landfill sites in the UK. He even explores acquiring a pharmaceuticals company to move cocaine around the world disguised as medical exports, but that never gets off the ground. But some of his schemes do work, and Kristi's real business savvy, it starts to show up in the next move he makes.


Because once his own money laundering operations are up and running, he starts to offer the service to other criminals. The south Coast of Spain at this time is awash with gangsters. There's the Russian mafia, Latin American cartels, and Dutch and African criminals all hanging out in restaurants and golf courses. If Kristi can charge the others a fee to launder their cash, then he can find another way to make cleaning his own money not a cost, but a profit center. It's like a criminal version of Amazon Web Services. You know, the story of how Amazon turned a huge cost base, its millions of servers, into a service that it could rent out to others. But while Christy is growing his operations, the police in Spain, Ireland, and the UK, they're watching. They're doing the painstaking work that's needed in these kinds of complex cross-border investigations.


If you're going to go after the higher-level people that sit behind it, takes a lot of time and you're following them around, you're gathering all sorts of data, intelligence and information around them. It doesn't sound like the most exciting part of it, managing the data and the information, but that's the thing that when you get to court, it's going to undermine you if you haven't done it properly, because you're up against people who are highly funded, extremely motivated, very experienced in their tradecraft as organized criminals. By the time you've got one of these high-level players before the court, you've generally got extremely damning evidence. But what they will do is employ these very high powered, very expensive, and very smart and intelligent barristers to try and attack the integrity of how you did the investigation.


It sounds like a chess match, like you're almost having to think multiple stages ahead.




Kristi knows how to play this game too. He realizes that there's a pretty good chance that the police are tracking him. Him and his men, they develop elaborate ways of switching between different phones to try and avoid being wiretapped. They even start to hire private security companies to give them training in counter surveillance and learning how to spot if they're being tailed. They were right to be careful, because on that morning in May 2010, with Christy, snoozing in his bed, it all comes crashing down. This huge multi-country effort to take down the kinnerhans, it's called Operation Shoval.


There were teams that I was working with that were carrying out activity in the UK, carrying out searches and recovering evidence, obviously very closely in touch with what was happening on the continent so that everything was synchronized and happened at the same time. If you're running the UK part of this investigation, this is part of the culmination of that, really, when your international partners are going to arrest the top echelon of the crime group.


Operations shovel reveals a crime empire of mind-boggling scale. It's this network of accountants, phony corporate directors, and advisers which make up the Kinnahans money laundering machine. More than 200 companies are involved. There's a property empire that spans from Britain to Brazil with hundreds of millions of euros. The UK's serious organized crime agency calls it a global investment service for gangsters. In the list of countries where this money moves, it's endless. Belgium, Holland, France, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Gibraltar, Switzerland, Liechenstein, and that's just in Europe. The money also moves through Morocco, South Africa, China, Dubai, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and the United States. There's a mountain of evidence against the Kinnihan organization, and it looks to be enough to put them behind bars for decades. Dozens of alleged Kinnahan associates are arrested, and so is Christy and his sons, Daniel and Christopher Jr. As they're being taken away, it must have dawned on Kristi that this time, perhaps it really was all over. I'm sure you've seen the footage. There's the Spanish police released video footage of Christy Kennehan, then raiding his property and being on handcuffs and stuff. What did you think at that moment?


There's certainly a sense when you become aware and see that footage, this feels like a big stage. This could be the beginning of the end for the organized crime group. It's a rewarding time, I suppose, if you're an investigator and you're part of a global investigation to see the the top end of the organized crime group in handcuffs being led out by armed Spanish officers. But of course, you can never really know what's going to happen until the dice stop rolling, if you like.


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Back in Ireland, the media has been keeping a close eye on the events unfolding in Spain, including journalist Nicola Talan, she's investigations editor for the Irish newspaper The Sunday World. Nicola is one of a small group of fearless Irish reporters who's been writing about the Kinnihan family for years, and she's one of the best. She's actually written a book about them called Clash of the Clans.


They seem to have always been there on the ether, to be honest with you.


Nicola reported on the Kinnihans as they built their base in the Spanish Costa in the 2000s. But after Operation Shoval, Nicola says a lot of people in Ireland thought the Kinnihans were over.


In the aftermath of that, I think everybody believed that they had been finished, they were done.


But Nicola is not so sure, so she's not surprised when Kristi gets out of jail.


Despite this Operation Shoval, they were very much back in business.


How is that possible that you can be running an organized crime organization, which is then busted for being worth €100 million, and yet pretty soon after you're back.


They had money, they had good lawyers, they have the money to employ plenty of counter surveillance to start purchasing these encrypted phones to keep on the move, to have safe houses, to have many layers between them and their product. The bigger you get, the more difficult it is for law enforcement to bring down a grouping.


Because after the initial drama of the raids dies down, it becomes apparent to the Spanish police that convicting Kristi is going to be far harder than they thought. The paper trail for all these front companiesis huge and the police need to get countries around the world to send over documents to prove that they belong to Kristi. But this takes years and some countries they don't even reply to the request for help. Like Matt Horne said, these cases are delicate things. Without the right paper trail, they can fall apart. Kristi and his sons are released on bail and returned to their luxury villas, and one by one, the most serious charge is against them. They fall away. Police across Europe, they're left furious. This was meant to be a knockout blow, an operation that would finally bring Kristy down. And now the case is collapsing before their eyes. For Matt Horne, the man in charge of tracking the Kinnehans for the UK's National Crime Agency, it was a sign that they had to double down on their efforts.


It's not unusual in my trade to accept the fact that you might have lost this particular battle. But the war, if you like, if I can use that metaphor, carries on.


It looks like there will be more battles to come because Nicola, she thinks that Operation Shoval didn't just fail to stop the killer hands. She thinks it galvanized them.


It was no longer just a threat that they could beat the system, that they were bigger than the law. This was the reality of it. It made them very, very powerful within their own world. It made them to feel that way, even more so than before. They haven't actually been stopped. If they were worth 100 million in 2010, they're now bigger than that. What are they worth? What are these guys capable of? Where are they going next? We just decided to go out to Spain to see what we could get.


In May 2012, Nicola gets on a plane with a team from her newspaper. They head out to the Costadale Sol. The plan is to pose as Irish tourists who are interested in buying a luxury villa there. But really, they want to show that the Kinnehans, far from being destroyed, are actually back in business and stronger than before. A few days into Nicola's undercover reporting trip, she's making some progress. They've gathered evidence that despite the police operation, the Kinnahans still have several luxury properties out in the Costa. But there's something else that Nicola and her team want while they're here.


We did want to see Christa Kinnahan if we could. We wanted to see activity around Puerto Benuz, around that port.


Puerto Benuz is a Spanish town close to Marbea, and Nicola already knew from her sources that this was the place that the Kinnahans like to hang out. She'd been told about their daily habits.


Because human beings, no matter how much counter surveillance training you get, most of them are routines and they fall back into routine, especially when they feel safe. They had fallen back into this peacock way of behaving that they were showing off.


The next step is to try and get a photo of Christy. The team wait for hours, hoping to catch sight of him. And it works. He pulls by in a large black Mercedes. We watched.


Him move around a bit and photographed him. I think at that point, it was probably the first time he'd ever been photographed outside of a court. He didn't know he was being photographed, so he was behaving very naturally and people were behaving very naturally with him. When he walked into a pub, a group stood and were only short of kissing the ring on his finger. It was very godfather style behavior from him and from others. We had it in the bag and we decided to go for a drink in one of the busy pubs down in Port Benoît to celebrate a successful mission, I suppose.


It's called the Portside Bar. It's lit with pink and purple neon lights and decorated with old-fashioned diving helmets. It's got a lot of TVs on the wall and it's summer and packed and they just look like another group of holiday makers enjoying a pine.


Just not long after we sat down, one of the people working with me got up and went into a loo and he came back out and he just said to me to move, go. He said back, see you back at the villa. Myself and my colleague, Mike McAfrey, were told to separate. We'd be shadowed and just to basically keep moving. Mike went one way, I went the other. We walked through the crowds and headed for the gates of the port where I managed to just hop in a taxi and get back to the villa we were staying in. Mike arrived shortly after me.


When everyone's safe, they find out what happened. Their colleague had spotted someone in the bar who looked like he might be a dealer and this potential dealer was staring at Nicola. Nicola's colleague had followed the man into the bathroom and he heard him speaking on the phone.


Telling whoever was on the other end of the phone that Nicola talent in the Sunday World were here, send the lads down, and he'd made quick decision to get us out of there. To me, it just showed how untouchable they felt they were. They weren't sending the lads, as he calls them down, to just have a little look at us. They were obviously going to try and isolate us and, I'd say, give us a bit of a fright.


I mean, did you think that in that moment there was ever a risk that they would take the risk of doing something serious to you?


Well, there was a course. That's a course what it was. That's how they had become and felt as untouchable at that point down on the Costa. That's how dangerous they had become.


While she's in the Costa, Nicola isn't only looking out for Kristi Kinnaghan. She's also very interested in his eldest son, Daniel. Because Operation Shoval had revealed some important new information about the Kinnaghans, it showed that Daniel was taking on more and more responsibility in the group. It's a classic, almost cliched crime tale. Kristi, the patriarch, the godfather wanting to groom his own blood to succeed him. On the face of it, Daniel appeared like a good candidate to take over the family business. In 2010, he's still mostly unknown, and surprisingly, he has no criminal convictions. To someone looking in from the outside, he could have appeared like a legitimate businessman. While she was in the Costa, Nicola discovered something else about Daniel Kinnihan. He wasn't keeping in the shadows just like his dad. Daniel was a bit of a show-off, and he was busy. He seemed to want to become a public figure because... In a lot in Spain, Daniel's become very involved in a boxing gym.


Kind of an underground thing. It looked a bit grotty, to be honest, which it was down a driveway just into an underground gym thing.


He's managing low-level fighters, arranging their training, and arranging their fights. There's this video of Daniel from back then on the YouTube site of Acrobat TV. It's at a boxing match in Marbea in 2013. Daniel is in the ring and he's standing in the trainer's corner wearing a red cap and a T-shirt. This com pair comes out wearing a tuxedo and he starts calling out the names of the fighters and Daniel starts punching the air and the two boxers are limbering up.


For the big chest here tonight against... Excellent.


About five minutes into this fight, he's in the ring, he's in the corner with his fighter and he's screaming into his face, pumping him up. And the commentators are referring to him as Danny. He's trying to damage you.


Danny's telling him off there, giving him the right act. This match is.


Just a local event, but within a couple of years, things have started to change a lot. The boxing gym Daniel co-founds is originally called MGM and is later renamed MTK. It goes from a tiny gym in Spain to running high-profile events. Daniel is now walking boxers up into the ring at big fights in Dublin.


He was walking them up as their manager and was being cheered by a crowd of up to 8,000. When you think about it, that was only a couple of years after Operation Shoval.


Daniel's boxing company begins to embrace social media. They start to arrange photo opportunities with celebrities and Premier League footballers.


None of those things happen by chance. They're all planned. There's advice, there's high-end corporate advice given to them. I mean, be under no illusion. They have their own marketing department. They have their own PR teams working for them. In the same way as any wealthy, prosperous company in the legitimate world.


Why did figures in the boxing world so quickly accept someone like Daniel Kinnihan into their circles? How did he achieve that so fast?


Look, he was bringing with the fabulous wealth. Back from the beginning, he was signing up boxers to what was essentially an Urvana in Spain. These were boxers who would never have made it as professionals. They were amateur boxers who loved their sport and who dreamed of fame. Not only were you being offered a contract, coaches, nutritionalists, they were being given accommodation in Spain. They were moving their whole families out to the Costa. They were being put up in beautiful villas with swimming pools. They were being completely love-bombed and they were being separated from everything they once knew, probably the decent volunteers in the communities who had trained them since they were children and who had brought them and would have brought them on to as honest a level as they could have. They were believing that they'd been badly treated previously, they'd been badly paid, they'd been cheated on, that this was what they deserved and that only Daniel Kinnhan could give it to them.


I wonder what you think that tells us about Daniel Kinnhan as a person in the sense of it suggests to me that he must have been pretty charismatic and had an ability to really charm and win the confidence of people. Is there anything that strikes you in terms of his personality, in terms of what might give him an advantage in the world of boxing and self-publicity or the world of forging alliances in international organized crime?


Well, it's a manipulative character because he starts off being very charming and very nice, and suddenly you find yourself on your own with him and you realize you're being threatened from somebody you didn't think was capable of it. You thought you were his friend, but you're not.


But Daniel is not only thinking about boxing. The Spanish police file, it describes Daniel as the person in charge of what it calls, slightly euphemistically, hard decisions. It's a reminder that while he's carefully building his name in the world of boxing, Daniel is also helping his father build a criminal empire.


All criminals ultimately wish and aim for becoming legitimate to transitioning into legitimate businessman.


Daniel now has one foot in both worlds, but he's about to learn that keeping these two lives separate is impossible, and soon he'll be forced to choose between them.


Want to drive innovation in a digital world? Sia Partners, next-generation management consultants, Optimists for Change. Find out more at cia-partners. Com. Writers. Com.


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I'm looking at this unbelievable CCTV footage. It's chilling. It's from 2016, from a hotel in a Dublin suburb, and it's become one of the most notorious moments in modern Irish criminal history. The pictures show what looks like three armed policeman in emergency response uniforms pacing down a hallway. They're entering and exiting rooms holding automatic weapons. But these men aren't policemen. They're assassins. They've come to the hotel to murder Daniel Kinnaghan. There's a promotional event for a boxing match at the hotel that day. There's a crowd and they're watching the fighters flex their muscles and grimace at each other. But suddenly, armed men burst into the room and begin to shoot. People were screaming and they're rushing for the exits. Someone in the room films what's happening on their phone. They flee into a back alley..


I don't know. I was at a murder investigation and a meeting, a conference in relation to it. I came out and I got a phone call and I shortly afterwards went to the scene.


Mike O'Sullivan is the Irish detective who first arrested Christy Kinnoghan way back in the 1980s. Now he's Chief Superintendent.


Running organized crime investigations for the country and running murder investigations as well. It didn't sound as bad when somebody's telling you on the phone, There's a couple of guys here with machine guns. I'm trying to get my head around it. It's only when you go there and you look at the CCTV, you have three guys dressed with bulletproof vests, that are purporting to be policemen wearing helmets, bulletproof helmets and carrying AK-47s, going into a packed hotel in Dublin City. To do it in the middle of the day, to have the audacity, to have this military-style, well-planned operation. At that stage, I had 40 years in law enforcement, and I hadn't seen the likes of that since the IRA. It was a milestone in law enforcement terms, certainly in Ireland. Those guys could have appeared anywhere. They could have appeared at an airport, at a police station, at a shopping center. They could have done what they liked for those couple of minutes, for 10 minutes, whatever. You realize things are never going to be the same again. You also realize we are in a different league. This isn't a feud, this is a war.


At the hotel, the scene is gruesome. Several people have been shot and one man's dead. But somehow, Daniel Kinnahans managed to slip away. Irish police get intelligence that the attempted assassination was an act of revenge for a murder back in Spain that the Kinnahans had carried out against a former ally. But Daniel Kinnahans was still alive, and the question was, how is he going to react? Gang wars are bad for business, but this was a brazen challenge to the authority of his family on their home turf. The heir to his father's crime empire, the man who'd been trying to appear like a regular legal boxing entrepreneur, now faced perhaps the biggest decision of his life. Nicola Tallant thinks there was never much of a question about what Daniel would do.


His ego was challenged. He's a narcissist. He's all those things that we know of human beings having the capabilities of being. His power was challenged here in Dublin, and he was going to lash out and make sure everyone knew who he was, what he was capable of.


I think it took two days. A guy called Eddie Hutch, who was a family member of a particular group who was suspected to be on the other behind the attack, was murdered at his home. He was shot dead. He was a taxi driver. The gloves were off.


Soon, murders were being carried out in broad daylight on the streets of Dublin.


It didn't matter whether you were involved in crime. People were shot because they attended funerals. They were seen talking with members of the other family. And the other family were quite a large families gathered throughout the city. So people were shot on suspicion of knowing or being friendly with people who had no hand-acted part in crime for many years, people who were soft targets. People were shot because it might inflict pain on the other group.


Michael and his colleagues in the organized crime squad try and contain the violence.


You get as proactive as possible. You get as many armed people as quick as possible to blanket a certain area. You put protection on the other group who are targets, and you try and put as much protection as possible. But it is very difficult to prevent somebody from getting shot because you don't know which somebody is going to be shot and you work down who are the higher profile targets and you try to put policeman outside the door, you put policeman following them, you give them advice. You basically try and protect as many people as possible, while at the same time trying to solve the murders that has already taken place. It's very challenging, it's very challenging. It's very dangerous. It's very dangerous. It's knife edge stuff, and you didn't know who was going to turn up with a gun at any given time to shoot any given person, and there was no rhyme or reason to it. It was like all of these bounty hunters running around trying to make a name for themselves by shooting people and getting paid for it.


Wow. I mean, it sounds like a very intense moment. It was really intense. In the two years following the Regency Hotel attack, a total of 18 people will be murdered, and the Irish police will foil over 40 other assassination attempts by the Kinnahans. Michael had been playing a game of cops and robbers with Christy since they both started out in Dublin in their 20s. He'd seen how the Kinnahan-Patrick operated, how he'd learned to try and not attract too much attention. But now his son, Daniel, the man being groomed as his heir, was putting everything his father had worked for at risk.


Successful criminals who run organized crime groups should know one golden rule: You can't go around shooting people and not get police attention. The smart move is to keep a low profile. A smart move is to negotiate yourself around things. Some criminals, the power goes to their head. The Coke sometimes goes to their head too, but the power goes to their head and they do things because they can. But the smart ones figure it out strategically and say, If I draw attention to myself, I don't know where this will go, but the institutions of the state will focus on me. There are consequences. You cannot go around like Al Capone. You can, but you'll only last so long.


In the UK, Matt Horne and the National Crime Agency have been following everything the Kinnahans have been doing since Operation Shoval.


You've got this extreme violence taking place, this criminal ventetta that's going on for a long period of time, shootings, murders. You've got this sportswashing, and they're infiltrating effectively a global sport and becoming a major player in a global sport as organized criminals. You've got the major money laundering, you've got the huge involvement in the global drug trade. So, yeah, you are starting to think that this is a major group and a group that we need still to do something about. And we've not managed to successfully prosecute them so far. What else can we do to try and disrupt them?


Daniel Kinnihan, he'd made his choice. Ireland was too dangerous and Spain too. If the police didn't get them, then their rivals would. They do what every serious gangster across Europe was doing at the time. They decide to move to a place far away, even further than the Costa, to one of the last places on earth where they could expand their crime empire in peace. Dubai is like a membrane. The rackish waters of the underground and the murky waters percolate and mingle with the fresh water of the rules-based international financial system. It's where the Super Cartel will be born. Hot Money is a production of The Financial Times and Pushkin Industries. It was written and reported by me, Miles Johnson. If you've got any leads or information about this story, you can email me at newnarcos@ft. Com. The series producer is Peggy Sutton. Edith Rusalow is the Associate Producer. Fact-checking is by Arthur Gombertz. Jason Gambrelle and Amanda K-Wong are the mixing engineers. Sound design from Jake Gorsky. Jeremy Walmsley wrote the original music. Our editor is Sarah Nicks. And the executive producers are Jacob Goldstein and Cheryl Bromley. Special thanks to Laura Clark, Alistair Mackie, Reem Turner, Arley Adlington, and Pablo Diaz, Almuguera.


You can't stop change, but you can decide to make the most from it. Sia Partners, next-generation management consultants, optimists for Change. Find out more at sia-partners. Com.


How did a quasi-fictional novel about Vladimir Putin's Spin Doctor become an international best-selling sensation? Listen now and find out for yourself. Filled with real political insight and intrigue, the Wizard of the Kremlin is a thrilling look at the nature of power and the inner workings of Putin's regime at a time when the Russian leaders' decisions are reverberating across the world. Listen to the audiobook now at pushkin. Fm, or wherever audiobooks are sold.