mafia power play
glossary of the russian comrade criminal
navigation, see below for text

apparat the name denoting the entire civil service during the Soviet era (The elite membership of the apparat was known as the nomenklatura--see below.)
apparatchik a member of the Soviet civil service. Also often used indiscriminately to cover the nomenklatura as well.
avtoritet authority. Leader of one of the new commercial-oriented mafiya groups.
baklany punks.
bandity common word used among police referring to hoodlums.
bespredel disorder; literally beyond limits.
blat old Soviet term for contacts in the right places. When someone manages to use his contacts to get a favor or a position. It is done 'poblatu.'
blatnoi/blatnyea catch-all term used by hoodlums to refer to themselves and their ('blatnoi';) way of life. The gangs' answer to police description of them as 'bandity.'
brat na pontto bluff (take someone by storm).
bratski krugcircle of brothers; said to be main inner structure of vorovskoi mir; (also) 'bratskaya semyorka' (the brotherhood of seven).
brodyagia criminal caste below vor, vagabonds; (leaders-in-training).
(literally bulls).
chainikprison bully (literally cheap teapot, like the ones used in Russian prisons).
choirsname for gangs in St Petersburg in last century; they met at taverns.
chorniye smoridinyor simply Chorniye (blacks): nickname for Caucasians.
dantaxes (tribute), collected by racketeers.
fartsovchikblack-market dealer, usually young, dealing in street-corner sales. Appeared in 1980s.
gastralyorguest criminal (from other cities).
grokhnutto shoot; literally to bang (sound); one of several slang words for killing; others below.
kaif'high' as on drugs. A Central Asian word.
kalolinjection (drugs).
kit'big fish/crime target; literally whale.
lavit kaifto get high (on drugs), 'V. kaifu' means feeling pleasure at being high.
lavrushnikianother nickname for Caucasian vory (see above).
limoni/tri limonaone lemon (million rubles)/three lemons (three million).
loshadkain drug trade. Methadon (Russian word for little horse or hobby horse).
lunakhodpolice van; literally moonwalker.
mafiyageneric term used across the Soviet Union since the 1970s to denote Party barons accused of corruption, black market speculators or sometimes just sections of society the speaker did not happen to like. By 1992, it carried an additional meaning to describe the groups of criminal entrepreneurs and corrupt officials who came to prominence in the post-Soviet era.
maklerapartment broker/fixer - after German.
maslinichnii makoily poppy. Drugs.
mussorcop; literally garbage.
na narakh behind bars/in prison (zhoglo).
na svobodyefree from prison, 'in freedom.'
nayekhatraid/apply gang pressure, extort; to collect dan literally to run into/over.
nomenklaturathe elite membership of the Soviet governing system, so called because their names appear on the nomenklature or list of the most loyal Party officials eligible for senior posts at home and overseas.
obshchakcriminal treasury.
opuschiny (opuskat')persons who've been raped in prison; literally, to lower.
pakhanchief of band; crime boss.
panamadummy company/in bureaucracy.
patsaniyoung lads/warriors who make up criminal gangs.
pikaslang word for a knife. This is slang for the whole former Soviet Union.
po ponyatiyamway of offering security services; gentlemen's agreement.
podkhodcoronation of vor; literally approach.
posadit' na pikuto stab to death, cut up with a knife; literally to put on a spike.
prishit'to kill; literally to sew up; to shoot dead.
prishli mne kapustuwhat you say if someone owes you money (send me the cabbage).
razboinikiwarriors of gang.
razborkasettling of accounts/judgment, often violent.
sborschikicollectors who pick up taxes from traders at markets.
sdelat kozyolturn into a goat, or lower class, as in prison. Homo-sexual slave.
shalitmake mischief.
skhodkacriminal assembly/council of vory.
shpanagroup of hoodlums.
sidet'to be in prison; literally to sit.
stakan'glass' measurement of drugs.
strelkacouncil or appointment; literally little arrow, after small hand on watch.
sukiturncoats, scabs, traitors,; literally bitches.
telet chefirprison expression for making strong tea. Also to have nothing left.
torpedocontract killer.
tsekhovik/tsekhovikiowner of black-market underground factories.
tusovkaslice, as in the slice of society occupied by golden youth and young mafiosi.
ubratto kill, waste; literally take out.
urytto kill; literally to bury.
vorthief, lord of crime. Once generic term for thief or foreign enemy.
vor v zakonyethief in law. Full name of leader of old Russian gang.
vorovskoe blagocriminal welfare. What every vor must defend.
vorovskoi mirthieves world.
vzyatto harass/rob; literally take, as in vzyat lariok (hit up a kiosk). Also means in slang, to take bribes.
zamochitto kill with a beating; literally to piss on.
zapodloshady business, underground commerce.

home | interviews | russian mob in north america | details expose | ivankov: taking a closer look | video excerpt | join the discussion
glossary | links | who's who | tapes & transcripts | synopsis | press

FRONTLINE | pbs online | wgbh

New Content Copyright © 1999 PBS Online and WGBH/FRONTLINE

../talk/ ../details/ ../mafia/ ../interviews/ ../