Cover Osteuropa 5/2016

In Osteuropa 5/2016

Russia’s Real Men
The Gang as Way of Life and Political Model

Svetlana Stephenson

Deutsche Fassung


In Russia, street gangs had considerable influence on economics and local politics in the 1990s. They had come into being in the last years of the Soviet Union. Many of their members (patsany) later had careers in politics, business, and government institutions. By means of personal ties, their notions of honour and rules of conduct (poniatiia) remain influential. The gangs function like patrimonial clans, their core values are strength and unconditional group loyalty. Russia’s political style in the 2010s can be interpreted as the implementation of this code. There is no antagonism between the state and the criminal world, but rather unspoken complicity.

(Osteuropa 5/2016, pp. 3–17)