The Vory: Russia’s super mafia

Shortlisted for the Pushkin Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book On Russia in 2018


Vory Paperback Fancy

The Vory: Russia’s super mafia

“The culmination of more than twenty-five years of writing on Russian organized crime, Vory is destined to become the standard work on the subject. It is instructive and shocking—and a pleasure to read.”—Federico Varese, author of Mafia Life

“To understand power in contemporary Russia, this is a must read.”—Misha Glenny, author of McMafia

“Galeotti lays bare the lattices of power and influence between official Russia and its criminal organizations. This is the best guide to understanding the workings of the Kremlin since Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.”—Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Former President of Estonia

“Gritty, historically grounded and superbly readable, this is an essential work by one of the most knowledgeable and dispassionate observers of contemporary Russia.”—Rachel Polonsky, author of Molotov’s Magic Lantern

“Galeotti writes with wit, clarity and authority about the grimly fascinating, and all-too-important, history of organized crime and its outsize role in shaping contemporary Russian society and government.”—Michael Weiss, CNN National Security Analyst

“The Vory masterfully combines the startling stories of Russian crime lords with deft and nuanced analysis— it terrifies yet deftly brings a sense of proportion to the problem.”—Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible

“No one is better than Mark Galeotti when it comes to explaining the world of the vory and how it has evolved to the present day”—Charles Clover, author of Black Wind, White Snow

Official Pages

Yale UP (UK)

Yale UP (US)

Launch Events

Pushkin House, London, 16 April

Waterstones Gower Street, London, 17 April

Chatham House, London, 18 April

Henry Jackson Society, London, 23 April

Institute for International Relations, Prague, 3 May

Promotional Video Trailers

1: A general trailer

2: Khitrovka: on the cradle of the vorovskoi mir

3: Yaponchik: on a vor‘s life and death

4: Shabolovka: on police corruption

5: Red Square, on Putin and the mafia


The Russian Mafia: unmasking a global menace, speech at the Mob Museum, Las Vegas, 27 September 2018

Launch of the Russian-language version, in conversation with Ekaterina Schulmann, at InLiberty, Moscow, 28 April 2019


Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia, in the Guardian Long Reads (23 March 2018)

The Making of a Chechen Hitman, in Foreign Policy (24 May 2018)

The Vory, in Moscow Times (5 May 2019)

Articles by Me

How Do You Talk To A Chechen Hitman?, in Yale UP blog, 10 April 2018

The Gangsters at the Heart of Russia’s Story, in the Mob Museum blog, 1 June 2018

Reviews and Articles 

“This brilliant, gripping, astonishingly rich, important book, filled with flamboyant gangsters, devious rackets, vicious hits, secret policemen, Kremlin leaders and criminal slang, is at once a true-crime chronicle, a work of scholarship, an anthropological study, a political history of the fused underworld and upper echelons of Russian power — and essential reading today.” Evening Standard, 29 March 2018, by Simon Sebag-Montefiore

“Indispensable… Galeotti, a British academic based in Prague, is a world authority on Russian criminality and the country’s intelligence services. The Vory combines both parts of his expertise.” Times, 7 April 2018, by Edward Lucas

“Galeotti, by far the best-informed Western academic writing on the Russian security services today, charts the rich history of the country’s criminal underground and the twist of history that saw the vory – “thieves” – suddenly emerge as the victors in Russia’s chaotic experiment with capitalism” Times Literary Supplement, 30 March 2018, by Owen Matthews

“Galeotti cuts through the legends, to get to the real story…. The Vory is a timely, readable and important text for anyone thinking of ways to restrict Russian influence over the west and to punish Russia’s leadership for its crimes.” Guardian, 9 April 2018, by Oliver Bullough

“extraordinarily entertaining…Galeotti has collected an astonishing amount of data about the Russian underworld.” Raam op Russland, 18 April 2018, by Raymond van den Boogaard [in Dutch]

“You’d be hard pressed to find a more exhaustive and compelling guide to the confluence of state and organised crime in Russia than this history of thievery that stretches back to the underworld’s pre-revolutionary roots.” Independent, 27 April 2018, by Alasdair Lees

“The British researcher Mark Galeotti plunged into the Russian underworld for decades. From Afghanistan veterans to Russian assassins, he spoke to them all. In his recently published book, Galeotti sketches a disconcerting image of hackers, hitmen and oligarchs who are on the Kremlin’s leash.” Follow the Money [Netherlands], 28 April 2018, by Dennis Mijnheer

“A staggering history of organized crime in Russia.” Dagbladet [Norway], 3 May 2018, by Aage Borchgrevink [in Norwegian]

“The essential companion to a bewildering and aggressive new world, a world that is no longer confined behind Russian borders but seeks actively to penetrate and disrupt our own society..” Spectator, 5 May 2018, by Charlotte Hobson

“A comprehensive and engrossing history and current analysis of crime in a country that is frequently misunderstood… Though packed with tales of contract killings resembling any true crime book, Galeotti retains the analytical rigor of an academic. … For the general public, who mostly learn of organized crime through television and movies, The Vory helps to truly define and explain organized crime in Russia today. …, from street-level thug to the highest levels of government, Galeotti succeeds in guiding the reader through a world that is, for obvious reasons, opaque and shrouded in mystery.” Charged Affairs, 21 May 2018, by Michael Dworman

“In The Vory. Russia’s Super Mafia, he beautifully maps the unique relationship between government and crime.” NRC Handelsblad [Dutch], 7 June 2018, by Laura Starink

“Explosive”, Mail Online, 9 June 2018

“The best description so far of the changes in Russian organised crime over the last two centuries”, Hospodarske noviny [Czech], 12 June 2018, by Ondrej Soukup

“Mark Galeotti’s name as a Russia buff and analyst should be well-known… The book is an impressive result of detailed research”, Diplomaatia [Estonian], 25 June 2018, by Aimar Ventsel

“from one of the world’s leading experts on organised crime, [the book] is destined to become the indispensable reference text for all those who, in various capacities, want to understand the origins, evolution and role now played by the Russian mafia… an historical essay that combines scholarly rigour, deep expertise in criminology and compelling prose,” Strade [Italian], 4 July 2018, by Massimo Di Pasquale

“Truly contributes to the understanding of today’s Russia,” Politiken [Danish], 23 July 2018, by Henrik Kaufholz

“‘The Vory’ is a well-researched, in-depth look at the history of organized crime in Russia. Students of crime and Russian history will find this book to be interesting and illuminating.” Washington Times29 July 2018, by Paul Davis

“Gangsters turn up in every society, but the shape they take and the ways in which they operate depend to a great extent on the culture and politics of their countries of origin and change with the times. As this comprehensively researched book shows, nowhere is that more true than in Russia.” Foreign AffairsSept/Oct 2018, by Robert Legvold

‘Civilisation and crime: disassembly and gathering’: A thoughtful, discursive piece that uses the book to kick off wider rumination about Russian society (some of which I think is spot on, and with some of which I disagree) in Russian in Neprikosnovennyi zapas, No. 4, 2018, by Aleksandr Kustarev

‘The definitive work in this entire field, a book that will likely—and should quickly—become a critical academic reference point. It is a scholarly accomplishment of wide-ranging erudition deployed with meticulous precision.’ Current History, October 2018, by Nancy Ries

‘Galeotti uses a variety of sources, he talked to police officers, security officials and gangsters. He… has written an impressive book that could be the new standard work concerning organised crime in Russia.’ Deutschlandfunk29 October 2018, by Frederik Rother

The Vory provides a fine framework to understand the strong links between crime and politics that characterized the end of the Soviet era. The book’s excellent historical analysis shines a light on Russian organized crime at the organizational and tactical level.’ War On The Rocks, 15 November 2018, by Louise Shelley

‘Every future MP should read Mark Galeotti’s book about organised crime in Russia.’ Talouselämä, 7 April 2019, by Katja Boxberg [Finnish]

‘The result is a painstakingly researched, rich new book that builds up to a provocative and eye-opening analysis about the role of organized crime in shaping the Russian state and society. The book is an evocative account of individual vory that ultimately moves far beyond them. It provides a fresh lens on Russia for all those analysts and policy-makers examining the resurrection of this superpower on the world stage. More importantly, it tells an accessible story for a broader readership of a how a murky underworld crawled out of the lower depths and became an unignorable element of Russian life.’ Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Society19 (2018) by Gavin Slade


‘Марк Галеотти о своей новой книге “Воры. Русская супер-мафия”‘ (‘Mark Galeotti on his new book. “The Vory: Russia’s super mafia”‘), Deutsche Welle Russian language service [Russian]

‘The Vory: Russia’s Super-Mafia by Mark Galeotti, review: How the state absorbed the criminal underworld,’ BBC World Service TV

‘‘In Rusland hebben politici, zakenlui en criminelen elkaar nodig’ (‘In Russia politicians, businessmen and criminals need each other’), De Standaard [Dutch]

‘Historicus Mark Galeotti neemt de Russische maffia onder de loep’ (‘Historian Mark Galeotti takes a closer look at the Russian mafia), Knack [Dutch]

‘Марк Галеотти о российской организованной преступности за пределами России’ (‘Mark Galeotti on Russian organised crime outside Russia’), Voice of America Ukrainian Service [English, subtitles]

‘Putins Rusland: »Gangsterne kan stjæle, de kan snyde, de kan hvidvaske penge, og styret tolererer det«’ (‘Putin’s Russia: “The gangsters can steal, they can cheat, they can launder money and the state tolerates it”‘), Berlingske [Danish]

‘Har vi i det hele tatt begreper om hva Putins Russland er?’ (‘Do we have any idea what Putin’s Russia is?’), Document [Norwegian]

‘Союз бандитов и клептократов. Новая книга о российской власти’ (‘A Union of Bandits and Kleptocrats. A new book on the Russian state’), Radio Svoboda (Russian)

‘How Putin’s Russia became a mafia heaven,’ Vice, 29 May 2018

‘The rise of the vory, Russia’s ‘super mafia”, ABC (Australia), 29 June 2018

Excerpt from launch event at Pushkin House, 16 April 2018

‘”Nie znoszę wódki, ale zasada jest taka: jeśli ktoś do ciebie strzela, to nie masz wyjścia, musisz się z nim napi攑, Gazeta (Poland), 16 February 2020



The American Interest: Reckoning with Russia, 23 May 2018

The Warax and Natasha: The Spy Who Trolled Me, 1 June 2018

Tim Dillon is Going to Hell: Russia’s Super Mafia, 3 June 2018

Yale University Press podcast, 21 June 2018

War College: Your Handy-Dandy Guide to the Russian Mafia, 17 July 2018

New Books Network: The Vory – Russia’s super-mafia10 June 2019

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Foreign Translations

This is a list of the translation rights currently sold; as and when non-English versions are published, I’ll add links to them. And if your language isn’t listed, get some likely local publisher to make Yale UP an offer!

Arabic: The National Centre for Translating

Bulgarian: Lettera

Czech: Euromedia Group [published]

Dutch: Uitgeverij Prometheus [published]

Estonian: Uhinenud Ajakirjad OÜ [published]

Finnish: Docendo Kustannus [published]

Hungarian: Kalligram Kiado

Latvia: Dienas Grāmata [published]

Lithuania: Leidykla Briedis [published]

Norwegian: Gyldendal Norway [published]

Polish: SIW Znak [published]

Romanian: Corint [published]

Russian: Bookmate/Individuum [published]

Slovak: IKAR Publishing House [published]

Spanish: RBA Libros [published]

Swedish: Bonniers [published]

MG in Vilnius

At the launch of the Lithuanian-language edition, released by Briedis, at the Vilnius Book Fair, February 2020

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