Thieves in law are the highest level in a kind of hierarchy of the criminal community in the post-Soviet space. This is a rather closed caste, and getting there is quite difficult: ideally, you need to follow the code of conduct that is mandatory for a thief, in reality, sometimes you can get by with a large sum of money.
The rules by which the professional criminal world should live were formed by the thirties of the last century. The main one, to which all prisoners must obey: the thief in the prison is the master, all the rest are random passengers. Therefore, passengers pay tribute to the thieves from every show and recognize their authority. Accordingly, the thieves' law instructs thieves not to offend men and not involve them in a showdown between criminal gangs.
The thieves' law prohibits taking away the last from the peasant: the last piece of bread, the last clothes … However, the law was invented by thieves and is interpreted by them for their own benefit. According to numerous testimonies of those who went through the Gulag, during a severe famine and severe frosts, thieves did not hesitate to take away food and warm clothes from the "goners", that is, in prisoners who have reached an extreme degree of physical exhaustion.
The law prohibits thieves from having a family, living at the place of registration and cooperating with the authorities in any form - giving testimony during interrogations, working in a camp, serving in the army, fighting … This rule has long been and irreversibly violated. The most famous thieves in law - Yaponchik, Taiwanchik, Ded Khasan and everyone else - are very rich people who own real estate not only in Russia, but also abroad. They have families and their children are well provided for.
The ban on serving in the army was massively violated during the Great Patriotic War. Prisoners went to the front in penal battalions under the threat of being shot or in the hope of being released. In penal battalions they fought "to the first blood." After being wounded, the fighter was considered to have atoned for his guilt with blood. Those who survived, for the most part, were not going to give up theft as a way of life, and after the war they continued their criminal career. When they ended up in the camps, "honest thieves" who did not violate the thieves' law, declared the fighters "bitches", that is. apostates. This led to a prolonged bloody "bitch war".
The division into "thieves" and "bitches" persists even now. The thieves' law commands thieves not to deal with apostates. "Suk" can and should be killed, and informal contacts with them can serve as a reason for expulsion from the thieves' environment.
In prisons, thieves in law monitor the observance of order and resolve conflicts between prisoners. A thief in law can be killed only on the verdict of a "shodnyak" - a kind of court at which both the accuser and the accused are given the floor. The punishment for violating this prohibition is death.
A thief should not grab a weapon if he is not going to use it. "Took a knife - hit", otherwise you will be guaranteed a contemptuous attitude and an inevitable decrease in rank. You cannot accuse another thief of violating the law if there is no iron evidence - unfounded accusations can lead to serious punishment.