A thief in law (Russian: вор в законе vor v zakone; Ukrainian: злодій у законі zlodiy u zakoni; Belarusian: злодзей у
законе zlodzey u zakone; Georgian: კანონიერი ქურდი kanonieri kurdi; Armenian: օրենքով գող orenk'ov goğ;
Azerbaijani: Qanuni oğru) in the Soviet Union, the post-Soviet states and respective diasporas abroad is a specifically granted formal status of a
professional criminal who enjoys elite position within the organized crime environment and employs informal authority over its lower-status members.
Each new Vor is vetted (literally "crowned", with respective rituals and tattoos) by consensus of several Vors. Vor culture is inseparable with prison
organized crime: only repetitively jailed convicts are eligible for a Vor status
As the police and court system were re-established in the Soviet Union shortly after the 1917 revolution, the NKVD secret police nearly exterminated
the criminal underworld completely. Under Stalin, the forced labor camps (Gulag) overflowed with political prisoners and criminals, and a new
organized group of top criminals arose, the vory v zakone, or "thieves in law."
The "thieves in law" formed as a society for ruling the criminal underworld within the prison camps, "who govern the dark gaps in Soviet life beyond
the reach of the KGB". They adopted a system of collective responsibility, and swore to a code of "complete submission to the laws of criminal life,
including obligations to support the criminal ideal, rejection of legitimate employment (must support oneself through criminal enterprises) and
refusal to participate in all political activities
some of the rules they follow
Never show his emotions.
Forsake his relatives: father, mother, brothers, sisters. (Varies)
Not have a family of his own: no marriage, no children; this does not however, preclude him from having an unlimited number of women. *During a large
gathering of thieves-in-law during the late 1980s, this rule was removed.
Rule and arbitrate the criminal world and protect basic needs of criminals and prisoners according to the extents and priorities set by the thieves'
commune (typically in a given prison/prison cell, or region when not imprisoned)
In unavoidable situations (if a thief is under investigation or is arrested) to take the blame for someone else's crime; this buys the other person
time to escape and remain free.
Have nothing to do with the authorities (particularly with the ITU, Correctional Labor Authority), not participate in public activities, nor join any
community organizations. (This rule came from during the years of Soviet oppression and rarely applies now)
Not serve in the military or accept any weapons from the government or prison authority (police baton). (Again this rule is traditional and rarely
applies today, in fact, Vor control the black market, which is discharged Soviet weapons)
Make good on promises given to other thieves.
some of the tattoos
A spider tattoo, when facing up, denotes an active criminal; facing down, it denotes one who has left the lifestyle
The eight-pointed star denotes rank as thief in law depending on where it is placed
The head of the Devil (Fenya: Оскал, oskal; Russian: голова диавола, golova diavola) on the back of the hand denotes one who
harbours anger towards the Government
The quincunx on the wrist indicates one who has done extensive time, from the saying "the four walls and I"
this is a real cool documentary on them and some of the thieves in law tell about their tattoos
edit on 19-11-2014 by Grovit because: (no reason given)
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