Bitch Wars

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The Bitch Wars or Suka Wars (Russian: Сучьи войны Suchyi voyny or in singular: Сучья война Suchya voyna) occurred within the Soviet labor camp system between 1945 and around the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.

The Russian word suka "сука" (literally, "bitch") has a stronger negative connotation than its English equivalent. In Russian criminal argot, it specifically refers to a person from the criminal world who had cooperated with law enforcement or the government, or "went bitch" ("ссучился" "ssuchilsya"). Within the Russian prison system, there was a historical and social structure that had existed since the Tsarist Russian era. One of the important tenets of the system was that members would not serve or collaborate with the Tsarist and later Soviet government. This rule encompassed any kind of collaboration, not only "snitching" or "ratting."[1][2]

As World War II progressed, Joseph Stalin made an offer to many prisoners that in exchange for their military service they would be granted a pardon or reduction of service at the end of the war. After the end of the war many of those returned to prisons and labor camps, and were declared suki and placed on the lower end of the prisoner hierarchy. As a result they sought to survive through collaboration with prison officials, and in return got some of the better jobs within the prison.[3]

This, along with the suki involvement in the Soviet military, started an internal prison war between the military veterans and the leaders of the Russian criminal underground, or "Thieves in Law." Many prisoners were killed in the Bitch Wars. Prison authorities turned a blind eye, since prisoner deaths reduced the overall prison population - a population that was difficult to maintain during the famines of the times.[citation needed]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Varlam Shalamov, Essays on Criminal World, "Bitch War" (Shalamov's essay online (Russian)) in: Varlam Shalamov (1998) "Complete Works" (Варлам Шаламов. Собрание сочинений в четырех томах), vol. 2, printed by publishers Vagrius and Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, ISBN 5-280-03163-1, ISBN 5-280-03162-3
  2. ^ A. V. Kuchinsky Prison Encyclopedia, (Кучинский А.В. - Тюремная энциклопедия, a fragment online (Russian))
  3. ^ Varlam Shalamov, Essays on Criminal World, "Bitch War" (Shalamov's essay online (Russian)) in: Varlam Shalamov (1998) "Complete Works" (Варлам Шаламов. Собрание сочинений в четырех томах), vol. 2, printed by publishers Vagrius and Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, ISBN 5-280-03163-1, ISBN 5-280-03162-3