Alex Abramovich is the author of Bullies: A Friendship. (May 2019)

IN THE REVIEW

Dons of the Gulag

A man with tattoos indicating that he is affiliated with organized crime, Tobolsk, Siberia, January 2016; he is bathing in the waters of the Irtysh River to wash away his sins on Epiphany

The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia

by Mark Galeotti
Vor is the Russian word for “thief,” but in Russia, the vory, or vory v zakone (“thieves in the code”), were more than thieves. They were something like made men, or even mafia dons—initiates into the vorovskoi mir (the “thieves’ world”), which was distinct from Russia’s much larger blatnoy (“criminal”) …