- Origin story
- How it all began
- How many "kings of the underworld" are there?
- The situation in the underworld today
- What spheres of influenceare of interest to thieves in law?
- What does it take to become a thief?
- Initiation process
- Unexpected coronations
Who are thieves in law? This is a mysterious and dangerous organization, known not only among the countries of the former Soviet Union, but throughout the world. But how to become a member? What is the coronation of a kingpin?
When such organized crime appeared, no one can say. It is difficult to trace even where this phrase came from. The coronation of a thief in law is an initiation into a secret thieves' order, into the elite and leaders of the criminal world. After that, a person is obliged to be responsible for order in colonies and prisons, to form new criminals, to manage the lives of ordinary prisoners. The first "noble bandit" and "father" of all thieves in law is Mishka Yaponchik, the legendary "King of Odessa", as well as the Soviet hero of the Civil War. The vast majority of criminologists believe that thieves as a caste appeared in the thirties.
How it all began
How is the coronation of a kingpin? This tradition dates back to ancient times. After the war, the underworld developed and grew stronger, replenished its ranks with professional leaders. The personnel policy was extremely rigid.The coronation of a thief is a responsible matter, not every hardened criminal could be awarded such an honor. In addition to the daily routine of convicts and the regime, the so-called "thieves' charter" appeared, which prohibited many things. It was impossible to cut each other, strangle, steal from criminals, shirk from work and rowdy. Killing or insulting a thief were considered the most serious sins. By the end of the sixties, after complex processes within the state and the "thieves' society", very few professional criminals remained. They were forgotten almost until the eighties.
What is this? The coronation of a thief in law, among other things, introduced a new member to the storage of the so-called "common fund" - the thieves' cash desk. From it they “warmed” (that is, they supported) the pre-trial detention center, transfers, hospitals, punishment cells, colonies and zones. Tribute was imposed on all convicts, who paid with cigarettes, money, bread, alcohol. Thieves were personally responsible for the common fund - before the so-called gangway. Only an equal “in rank” could deprive the life of a “brother”, and only after a fair trial of the gangway.
How many "kings of the underworld" are there?
Today, it is very difficult to name the number of thieves in law on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The underworld knows how to keep secrets, information can be obtained only with the help of espionage, agents - in an operational way. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in 2007 less than two hundred people in Russia had the status of a thief in law, and with the rest of the CIS countries this number reached a thousand. ATThe operational file cabinets of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the FSB contain information about almost six hundred such people: their nicknames, surnames, biographies, place of residence, criminal rating are indicated. The coronation of new thieves in law occurs infrequently - it is difficult to meet all the requirements. In May 2013, the Criminal Investigation Department of the Russian Federation stated that 428 crime bosses were at large in Russia. Another hundred are held in colonies and pre-trial detention centers of the Russian Federation.
The situation in the underworld today
The coronation of a kingpin today is quite different from what it was in the forties of the last century. Modern "kings of the underworld" almost do not adhere to the traditional thieves' customs: not to have a family, own housing, luxury items, we alth and business. There is nothing left of the old laws. Many experts argue that the "thief in law" as an authority has lost its power and influence. One may not agree with this. Prisons and zones are a forge of all kinds of personnel for the underworld. And a huge cauldron through which tens of thousands of people pass every year. All of them are under the rule of the thieves' elite. The coronation of a thief in law singles out a person from this general mass and gives him certain new responsibilities. In zones and prisons, such people have a huge influence. For example, a variety of people gather at the funeral of a thief - actors, politicians, journalists, bankers from different countries (USA, Israel, European countries, and so on).
What spheres of influenceare of interest to thieves in law?
In the wild, the authorities take care of their staff. For example, they create "educational camps" for difficult teenagers and homeless children. Organized crime leaders finance children's sports clubs and sections, gyms. Not only for the purpose of selecting "new personnel", but also for a more loyal attitude of young people to authorities. The spheres of influence of people who have undergone such a ritual as the coronation of a thief in law remain unchanged for a long time: gambling, drug trafficking, car service, restaurant and hotel business, casinos, precious metals. Sometimes this list includes real estate and various legal businesses. The assets of common funds can be compared with the assets of the largest banks in the Russian Federation.
What does it take to become a thief?
The formation of such an authority as a "thief in law" is a tradition. The coronation of a new member of a criminal group existed in the last century. What does it take to be like this? How is the coronation of a thief in law? It is not enough to be just an authority, to honor the code of the "thief". It is extremely difficult to pass initiation. For example, a position officer (a high rank in the thieves' hierarchy) swung at the title of "lawyer". How will the coronation of a thief in law take place in this case? First of all, you need to get support from at least two other crime bosses. Moreover, the “experience” of guarantors is at least five years. Next, the candidate informs the rest of the thieves about his intention to become one of them. In all zones and colonies, insulators, babies are sent, in which it is reported thatsuch and such a person with such and such a "driver" is going to become a "lawyer". Anyone who can say something impartial about the candidate, discrediting the thieves' honor, is obliged to report this in a response letter. They can also remember the sins of twenty years ago.
As mentioned above, the candidate must be "clean" before the criminal society. There can be many reasons for refusing the coronation - this is early release, and a forgiven insult, and cooperation with the authorities, and an unpaid gambling debt, and the like. If the society recognizes that the candidate is worthy of the "crown", then the coronation itself is appointed. It can be carried out both in the zone and in freedom. The process of coronation in "places not so remote" enjoys great respect and honor. Many thieves of the old school believe that such a high status can only be awarded in the zone. How is the coronation of thieves in law? Little is known about the details of the process. Most likely, the thieves' "crown" is a symbol. It is mandatory to take an oath of a new "thief in law", who undertakes to accept death for betrayal, to comply with thieves' laws, and so on. A tattoo is solemnly applied: a heart pierced by a dagger. It means "for treason - death." After the coronation, other tattoos are also applied that may indicate a lawyer: a flying eagle with a crown, stars under the collarbones or on the shoulders, a cross with card suits inside.
The crown of thieves can be obtained at any age - at 20, at 40 and at 60.The coronation of a thief in law has recently become even absentee. What is most interesting, there were cases when a newly crowned thief lost his status on the same day. In the early nineties, a glaring "miracle" was added - the ability to buy a "crown" for money. It was at that time that the world of crime began to be commercialized. If earlier, in order to achieve the status of a thief in law, it was necessary to go through a harsh camp and prison school, to earn indisputable authority, now virtually anyone can enter the elite of the underworld for money (albeit for very big money). It became most popular among people of Caucasian nationality.