Magazine article Foreign Affairs

The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia

Article excerpt

The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia BY MARK GALEOTTI. Yale University Press, 2018, 344 pp.

Gangsters turn up in every society, but the shape they take and the ways in which they operate depend to a great extent on the culture and politics of their countries of origin and change with the times. As this comprehensively researched book shows, nowhere is that more true than in Russia. Galeotti starts by describing the different kinds of crime that plagued imperial Russia, focusing on the contrast between the countryside (where banditry, poaching, and horse thievery were most common) and the rapidly swelling cities, with their slums, gangs, and criminal underworlds. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the nature of the country's crime changed, as Stalin's gulag produced new criminal clans led by the vory v zakone, or "thieves in law. …

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