The Thief's CodeEdit
According to Aleksandr Gurov, an expert on the Vory who headed the organized crime units of the Soviet Interior Ministry and the KGB, "unlike the Cosa Nostra the Vory has 'less rules, but more severe rules' [and the] members must have no ties to the government, meaning they cannot serve in the army or cooperate with officials while in prison. They must also have served several jail sentences before they can claim the distinction. They should not marry."
Furthermore, "ethnicity has rarely determined whether someone can join the club, and today most members, even those active inside Russia, are from other post-Soviet countries such as Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia, or Chechnya, and are not ethnic Russians."
Under the code of the vory, a thief must:
- Forsake his relatives—father, brothers, sisters.
- Not have a family of his own—no wife, no children; this does not however, preclude him from having a lover.
- Never, under any circumstances, work, no matter how much difficulty this brings; live only on means gleaned from theft (in this case, a blanket term for all crime considered legitimate by the Vory) or gambling. Violent crimes and sex crimes are strongly frowned upon and may endanger a vor's status. For example, molesting or harming minors leads to much harsher retaliation from one's comrades than from the law. Arms smuggling and drug trafficking are considered a form of commerce and are therefore incompatible with the status of a thief in law.
- Help other thieves—both by moral and material support, utilizing the commune of thieves.
- Keep secret information about the whereabouts of accomplices (i.e. dens, districts, hideouts, safe apartments, etc.).
- In unavoidable situations (if a thief is under investigation) to take the blame for someone else's crime; this buys the other person time of freedom.
- Demand a convocation of inquiry for the purpose of resolving disputes in the event of a conflict between oneself and other thieves, or between thieves.
- If necessary, participate in such inquiries.
- Carry out the punishment of the offending thief as decided by the convocation.
- Not resist carrying out the decision of punishing the offending thief who is found guilty, with punishment determined by the convocation.
- Have good command of the thieves' jargon ("Fenya", sometimes called a distinct language).
- Not gamble without being able to cover losses.
- Teach the trade to young beginners.
- Have, if possible, informants from the rank and file of thieves.
- Not lose your reasoning ability when using alcohol.
- Have nothing to do with the authorities (particularly with the ITU, Correctional Labor Authority), not participate in public activities, nor join any community organizations.
- Not take weapons from the hands of authorities; not serve in the military.
- Make good on promises given to other thieves.
The choice can be changed on each Level of mastery and is not made permanent until selection on Level 3 for that particular episode. Someone can choose one side during a particular episode and then during a later episode can choose a completely different side.
To see a comparison of which side to choose, see Vory vs Mafiya.