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A Russian gopnik squats in a stairwell in a khrushchyovka building.

A gopnik (Russian: гопник, romanizedgopnik, pronounced [ˈɡopnʲɪk]; Ukrainian: гопник, romanizedhopnyk; Belarusian: гопнік, romanizedhopnik)[1] is a member of a delinquent subculture in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and in other former Soviet republics—a young man (or a woman, a gopnitsa) of working-class background who usually lives in suburban areas[2] and comes from a family of poor education and income.[3]

The collective noun is gopota (Russian: гопота). The subculture of gopota has its roots in working-class communities in the late Russian Empire and gradually emerged underground during the later half of the 20th century in many cities in the Soviet Union.[4][5] It was in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, during the collapse of the Soviet Union and its associated rise in poverty that saw the gopota subculture truly come to fruition and flourish.[6]

These years—between the late 1980s and roughly 2001—were the time when the gopota subculture was at its greatest extent, though it remained prevalent, albeit in decline, throughout much of the former Soviet space into the 2000s. As of the late 2010s, the subculture has faded for the most part, although youth gangs (such as the A.U.E.) that resemble gopota still exist in Russia and in other Slavic and Baltic countries.


Gopnik could be related to GOP, the acronym for the Gorodskoye Obshezhitie Proletariata. These were almshouses for the destitute created by the Bolshevik government after the October Revolution in 1917. According to the Russian Dahl's Explanatory Dictionary, first published in the 19th century, an old slang word for "sleeping on streets" was "гопать" (gopat', literally "to gop") something that was related to the "mazuricks" or the criminals of Saint Petersburg.[7]

One of the first appearances of "gopnik" in written text is in Zoopark's 1984 song Gopniki.[8]

Stereotypical appearance and behaviour[edit]

Typical Russian gopniks from the city of Tyumen, early 2000s

Gopniks are often seen wearing Adidas or Puma tracksuits, which were popularized by the 1980 Moscow Olympics Soviet team.[9][10] Sunflower seeds (colloquially semki [семки] or semechki [семечки]) are habitually eaten by gopniks, especially in Ukraine and Russia.[10]

The subculture is stereotypically associated with Russian chanson music, specifically the blatnaya pesnya subgenre. Since the mid-2010s, gopniks have been associated with hardbass music in internet memes and viral videos.[11][12]

Some gopniks have Russian nationalism or Pan-Slavism as their primary political views,[13] though there are also leftist, far-right and even neo-Nazi gopnik communities. In Russia, some gopniks hold strong anti-Western views and support the Putin administration.[3]

Gopniks are often seen squatting in groups "in court" (на кортах, na kortakh) or "doing the crab" (на крабе, na krabe) outside blocks of flats or schools with their heels on the ground.[14][15] It is described as a learned behavior, attributed to Russian and Soviet prison culture to avoid sitting on the cold ground. They are also stereotyped as being prone to substance and alcohol abuse, crime and hooliganism.[15]

See also[edit]

Similar subcultures by country include:


  1. ^ Russian plural гопники (gopniki), also гопота (gopota), and гопари (gopari). Archived 2020-03-27 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Beiträge der Europäischen Slavistischen Linguistik (POLYSLAV)., Archived 2020-03-27 at the Wayback Machine Volume 8, 2005, ISBN 3-87690-924-4, p. 237 Archived 2016-05-08 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Michele A. Berdy (2014-04-10). "Thugs, Rednecks, Nationalists: Understanding Russia's Gopnik Culture". Moscow Times.
    Anastasiya Fedorova (2014-07-30). "An Ode to Russia's Ugly, Mean Suburbs". Moscow Times.
  4. ^ "Slav Squat – Russian Disturbing Street Trend". Archived from the original on 2018-08-28. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  5. ^ "Russia's original gangstas: meet the gopniki". 22 July 2011. Archived from the original on 11 November 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  6. ^ RIR, specially for (2016-03-30). "Who are Russia's 'gopniks'?". Russia Beyond. Retrieved 2022-08-10.
  7. ^ "Британский исследовательский центр предлагает отказаться от слова "гопник"". Англия, Великобритания: энциклопедия, новости, фото. Всё об Англии и про Англию. Аделанта. July 17, 2008. Archived from the original on September 7, 2012. Retrieved August 30, 2013.[irrelevant citation]
  8. ^ "Opinion: Can Slav and gopnik memes do real damage?". The Calvert Journal. 13 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Why is Adidas so Popular Among Russians?". 4 January 2015. Archived from the original on 6 May 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Russian Gopniks: How to look like you belong". 9 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Russia's Hard Bass Scene is Completely Insane".
  12. ^ Yegorov, Oleg (2017-12-22). "Russian hard bass: How a musical monstrosity went viral". Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  13. ^ Anastasiia Fedorova (2014-05-28). "Russia's suburbs lack charm ... which may be why they're creative hotspots". Guardian. Archived from the original on 2020-01-15. Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  14. ^ Flynn, Moya; Kay, Rebecca; Oldfield, Jonathan D. (1 June 2008). Trans-national issues, local concerns and meanings of post-socialism: insights from Russia, Central Eastern Europe, and beyond. University Press of America. ISBN 978-0761840558. Archived from the original on 12 December 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ a b Ханипов Р. «Гопники» – значение понятия, и элементы репрезентации субкультуры «гопников» в России // "Social Identities in Transforming Societies"

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Gopnik at Wikimedia Commons