Russia has become a virtual "mafia state" with widespread corruption, bribery and protection rackets, US diplomatic cables on Wikileaks allege.
There was no differentiation between government and organised crime, one Spanish prosecutor investigating crime links says.
PM Vladimir Putin told CNN there may be "political purposes" behind the leaks but they were "no catastrophe".
The documents are among hundreds being released by the whistle-blower website.
The cables, published by the Guardian newspaper, paint a picture of a corrupt Russia centred around the leadership of Mr Putin. Bribery in the political system totals an estimated $300bn (£192bn) a year, the paper says.
In one cable from January 2010, Spanish prosecutor Jose "Pepe" Grinda Gonzales claimed that in Russia, Belarus and Chechnya "one cannot differentiate between the activities of the Government and OC (organised crime) groups".
Judge Grinda led a long investigation into Russian organised crime in Spain, leading to more than 60 arrests.
A cable from the US embassy in Madrid talks about the "unanswered question" of the extent to which Mr Putin is implicated in the mafia and whether he controls its actions.
The leaked cables also show that Washington believed Mr Putin was likely to have known about the operation to murder former Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. The Kremlin has denied any involvement.
US ambassador to Russia John Beyrle also submits a damning report on corruption in Moscow.
"Criminal elements enjoy a krysha (protection racket) that runs through the police, the federal security service, ministry of internal affairs and the prosecutor's office, as well as throughout the Moscow city government bureaucracy," Mr Beyrle says.
In one cable from February this year, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates says "Russian democracy has disappeared".click here for link