Russia Mafia Q&A

January 17, 2013 - 12:32 PM
FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, inmates of a prison colony pour cold water over themselves to celebrate Epiphany at St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in the Murmansk region of northern Russia. The contract-style killing of Russian mobster Aslan Usoyan, also known as Grandpa Khasan, on Wednesday Jan16, 2013, drew renewed attention to the extensive and elaborate culture of the country’s underworld figures who call themselves “crowned thieves” and “thieves in law.” Only top criminals are allowed to have tattoos which signal their privileged status within the criminal underworld, and may contain obscure codes, such as MIR (peace) meaning “Only capital punishment will correct me, and the Nazi swastika means rejection of everything Soviet (but does not make its bearer a neo-Nazi). (AP Photo/ Andrey Pronin, FILE)