Various Thieves’ Stars - I
Top-right: The tattoo of an authoritative pickpocket, nicknamed ‘Yasha the Pianist’. A university dropout, he was very experienced and careful. Two crews of policemen from the Pickpocket Detention Unit of the Department of Internal Affairs in Lenoblgorispolkom, had been trying to catch him for a week. They finally caught him red-handed in the Passage Department Store. The tattoo means: ‘May God give me wisdom, luck, and power’. After his last term in prison in the 1970s, he emigrated to Israel. 1963.
Top-left: The tattoo of a thief and robber nicknamed ‘Afghani’. After being detained at Moskovsky Railroad Station as a homeless person, he was taken to a detention centre to have his ID checked. He turned out to be wanted by the Kiev Department of Internal Affairs for a series of robberies, and fleeing from a Ukrainian prison escort. ‘Afghani’ was ethnically Russian, born in Kharkov. 1989.
Bottom-right: A thieves’ tattoo called a ‘Personal File’ or a ‘Cross of Articles’. The numbers refer to the articles of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR under which the bearer, nicknamed ‘Vanya the Key Keeper’, was sentenced. He was being treated for delirium tremens. 1970s.
Bottom-left: One of the numerous ‘counterfeit’ tattoos imitating a true thieves’ tattoo. Worn by shushera and shelupen [petty thieves] who attempt to gain influence among inmates in prisons where nobody knows them. They insult the wardens and intentionally seek conflict with the prison authorities in their attempts to show off in front of other prisoners. They are usually punished by their fellow inmates using ‘Lenin’s method of persuasion by force’ - a beating. It takes a long time for them to recover from such ‘persuasion’. 1940s-50s.