Fate of informers among Russian criminals

Fate of informers among Russian criminals
Photo: Valery Melnikov / RIA Novosti

Informers have a bad reputation and even worse fate among criminals in Russia.

At the end of last year, on December 28, law enforcers of the Novosibirsk region detained six brothers, members of an organized crime group, suspected of murdering a 37-year-old resident of Iskitim, who had testified before the police against one of them. Revenge is swift and merciless in criminal world. Those who cooperate with police or simply provide them with information in prison are met with deep hatred. Lenta.ru has come up with an article about relevant criminal traditions.

Prison laws

Squealing in colonies often entails punishment for those who do so, and the squabbles take place even outside of prison.

Last year, in the city of Gusinozersk (Selenginsky region of the Republic of Buryatia), 36-year-old Anton was having a walk, when he met his former cellmate Viktor — they both served terms in a Buryat prison for murder and were released almost at the same time, in 2004.

The two fellows decided to celebrate the meeting and went to Viktor’s place. When Viktor became drunk, he accused Anton of being an informer, who had been handing over prison inmates to its administration, and started beating him. Things quickly took an ugly turn, when Viktor’s buddy joined the fight. Anton was thrown out into the street, hardly breathing. In the morning, people passing by noticed him and called an ambulance. Anton died a month later, without regaining consciousness. Viktor and his friend were taken into custody.

Prove or pay

If a person is accused of befriending a kum (‘warder’), solid evidence is required, otherwise an unsubstantiated claim like that can get you killed.

In October 2012, a brutal murder took place in the village of Rudnya (Zhirnovsky district, Volgograd region). Two former cellmate met, and one accused the other in squealing. He was dealt with on the spot, and his killer received a new term.

No tolerance for cooperation

In 2014, in the Kazakh city of Karaganda, seven men killed and buried a tenth-grader. The teenager, whose name was Maksim (name changed) joined a bad company, which stole bicycles and scooters. Apparently, one of the criminals decided that Maksim was reporting on them to the police. The boy was beaten unconscious, taken to the area of the former mine Severnaya, and there finished off.

"They cut his throat. And then each of them touched the knife. They did it to ensure that everyone was bound by blood and nobody would betray them," the mother of the deceased told one of the local media.

Maksim's body was found only six months later. The seven were convicted for the murder.

Last autumn, on September 11, a body was found in the village of Mezhdurechie, Dagestan. 39-year-old Abdulgapur Valiev worked as a medical brother at a local hospital.

Being on duty, he took care of the police officers, causing the hatred of local militants, who killed him as ‘an informer.’

Informing means signing death sentence

"In general, the traditional hatred towards informers is not solely a Russia tradition. Criminals in any country — be it the Italian mafia, triads in Hong Kong or Mexican bandits — bitterly hate informers," a researcher of the prison world and writer Aleksander Sidorov, known under the pseudonym of Fima Zhiganets, said.

"Before World War II, prison sentences were not that severe: a killer would get eight years, a thief — a year or two. But in the second half of the 50s, they increased drastically. And when a person goes to prison for ten years or more without any chance of early release, he has to survive one way or another. The easiest way to make their plight in jail simpler is to cooperate with the administration. It became easy to recruit informers in prison," Sidorov said.

In this time period, the world of thieves divided into bitches (those cooperating with the authorities) and honest thieves, who defended their principles. Squealers (criminals call them differently: nightingales, snitches, cronies, sometimes — goats) were killed in prisons: drowned in toilets and died in other horrible ways. The realities of the time were reflected in the argot adage "an informer is just asking for an axe."

"In the middle of the XX century, there were inmates in Soviet prisons, who officially assisted the administration, they were called ‘red’ and despised. Despised the same way as rats — prisoners who stole from their fellows. But neither were killed en masse, unlike squealers. After all, a snitch could inform about a communication line with the outer world, interrupt the flow of food and other goods from there, and generally make life worse in every possible way, while pretending to be loyal," the source of Lenta.ru explained.

Hatred in their blood

Sidorov believes that today informants in prison are killed less often. However, a squealer would either beaten or humiliate in any case. This applies not only to the criminal world.

In one form or another, thieves’ concepts can be found almost everywhere. These elements made their way into various youth subcultures, from gopniks to even school environment. The concept of the ‘right guy’ is absorbed from an early age. The right guy would never squeal, he would always deal with the problem himself," Sidorov said.

Testimonies are usually given either by victims or witnesses. According to the unofficial laws of the criminal world, a thief can never be a victim. Even if he was robbed, even if he knows who stole from him, he cannot declare report it to the police because it is shameful. The right guy does not appeal to law enforcement.

"All of these concepts that were once part of the subculture of a narrow circle of people have today become part of us. Historically. It’s in the genes already," Fima Zhiganets concludes.

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