Crime in the USSR: statistics and types of crimes

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Crime in the USSR: statistics and types of crimes
Crime in the USSR: statistics and types of crimes

From the older generation, whose youth fell on the Soviet era, you can often hear that there was no crime in the USSR. This statement is not entirely correct. Compared to the chaos of the 90s, the times of the Soviet Union are really remembered with nostalgia. Then there was stability, criminal elements did not manifest themselves so openly. But this does not mean at all that crimes were not committed before 1991.

Civil War

The dashing 90s can be compared with the times of revolution and civil war. Due to the fact that the laws of the Russian Empire were no longer perceived by many as binding, the Provisional Government did not have sufficient authority, and people during the years of the First World War became embittered and lost the ability to put themselves in the place of others, a lot of crimes were committed during this period. Especially many offenses were committed in the economic sphere. This was one of the consequences of the slogans of the Bolsheviks about the redistribution of property. People whose standard of living had fallen significantly during the war years did not want to wait for this redistribution to be made from above.

Another feature of crime during the establishment of Soviet power is thatthe Bolshevik government often supported it. So, the former landlords and nobles were not protected by the new government. In this situation, everyone sought to snatch more from the property of the former oppressors. But the power of the Soviets fought resolutely with speculation. Despite this, it was only during the New Economic Policy that the black market was completely overcome.

Sentencing by a Soviet court

Stabilization period

The end of the civil war and the establishment of new legal norms helped reduce crime. In 1921, about 2.5 million criminal cases were submitted for consideration by the court, and in 1925 this number dropped to 1.4 million. This was influenced not only by the stabilization of the economic situation and the improvement in the quality of the work of the investigating authorities, but also by the Code of Certain Offenses.

Permission of market relations and private cooperation has become one of the causes of crime in the USSR in these years. Nepmen often did not fulfill contractual obligations, deceived consumers, and did not pay taxes. Some people sought to engage in not entirely legal business, such as moonshine. Another problem is that many people, accustomed to the impunity of the previous period, simply did not want to put up with the new state of affairs. Street hooligans caused so many problems for respectable citizens that in 1925 the state announced a whole campaign to combat such violators.

Soviet court poster

Change in criminal policy

The processes of industrialization and collectivization, as well as the obvious desire of I.V. Stalin for unlimited power, led to a revision of existing legislation. It is very difficult to distinguish between a real crime and a far-fetched one during the period of Stalinism. The curtailment of the NEP, which took the form of a struggle against the kulaks, was accompanied by the adoption of repressive laws, the implementation of which on the ground took extreme forms. In order to toughen the fight against "enemies of the people," the maximum term of imprisonment was raised to 25 years, and people over the age of 12 began to be held criminally liable. Almost 4 million people were convicted on charges of counter-revolutionary activities (real and far-fetched) during the years of the totalitarian dictatorship.

The fight against sabotage and kulaks rose to a new level with the creation on March 16, 1937 of the Department for Combating Theft of Socialist Property. As the name implies, the new body was supposed to fight looting, profiteering and kulaks. An important element of his activity was the search and prosecution of counterfeiters.

Memories of people who lived at that time allow us to say that the fight against crime in the USSR during the years of repression was carried out by criminal methods. Fulfilling the wishes of the authorities, the investigators committed malfeasance and used torture (not allowed to sleep, beat the prisoners, and so on). The employees of the "Sukhanovskaya" prison were especially famous for the use of such methods. Slander and slander also became frequent occurrences.

Sukhanov prison

There is a legend that in order to avoid being shot, many prisoners made tattoos on their chests with images of Lenin and Stalin. The executioners, allegedly fearing that they might be next for shooting at such targets, refused to carry out the execution. However, this is hardly true, since in the 30s the executioners did not shoot in the chest, as during the Civil War, but in the back of the head.

Crime during World War II

History shows that sometimes military action mobilizes the moral ideals of people, and the level of crime falls. Unfortunately, this cannot be said about the wars of the 20th century. Their very nature, the bitterness that gripped people, the need to survive in difficult situations contributed to an increase in the number of crimes.

In addition, in wartime, the number of death sentences increases sharply, since summary courts-martial play an important role. It is brought into line with reality and legislation. During the war years, military tribunals convicted twice as many people as ordinary courts. The increase in the number of criminals inevitably followed from the tightening of legislation, because of which a person could be convicted for the slightest violation of labor discipline. According to minimal estimates, 5.8 million people received convictions during this period.

The highest measure during the years of repression

The last years of the Stalinist regime and the beginning of Khrushchev's rule can also be considered a rather gloomy period. The number of crimes was influenced by factors such asfamine and an increase in the number of homeless people. In those days, most offenses were committed in the economic sphere and were associated with an encroachment on someone else's property. Since many people had recently returned from the front, ordinary thefts could be aggravated by murders, because almost everyone knew how to use firearms. A certain contribution to the increase in the number of crimes was made by the amnesty announced after the XX Congress, during which many real criminals were released.

Common features of crime in 1917-1958

Despite the heterogeneity of the period under review and the change in the system of justice, crime in the USSR in these years has a number of common features.

Firstly, it is the preservation of the criminogenic situation at a high level, and sometimes with a tendency to its growth. But, making such a statement, it is necessary to make a reservation that the available statistics of crimes are not entirely correct, since innocent people were sometimes ranked among the offenders. From this follows the second general point: the structure, level and dynamics of crime were determined by the unfavorable economic situation and the breaking of the established order, which is of particular importance for the Soviet countryside during the years of collectivization.

Use of labor of prisoners in the USSR

Third, by excluding from the statistics the guilty verdicts for criminal offenses that were clearly politically motivated, it can be seen that since the mid-20s the real crime rate has been steadily declining. This is especially noticeable in relation to minors. Stalin's construction allowedto provide young people with jobs and practically did away with unemployment, so the issue of survival was not as acute as during the years of the Civil War or the Second World War. In addition, corruption in the USSR has not yet taken such acute forms as in subsequent years, and many investigators did their work honestly.

Change in the structure of crime in the 60s

One of the consequences of Khrushchev's criticism of Stalin's personality cult at the XX Congress of the CPSU was the exposure of distortions in the conduct of the investigation. This clearly demonstrated the need for a new Criminal Code, which was done in 1958. The fundamental principle of the new legislation was the recognition that the basis for liability is the commission of an action prohibited by law. Thus, the possibility of punishing "enemies of the people" who did not commit a real offense was excluded. Thanks to this interpretation of the legislation in 1965, the smallest number of crimes was committed in comparison with the entire previous thirty years of Soviet power - a little more than 750 thousand. In general, the statistics of the late 60s - 70s are as follows:

Year 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975
Number of crimes 888129 871296 941078 969186 1046336 1057090 1064976 1049433 1141108 1197512

Sustained growthcrime in the USSR in these years is explained by the adoption on July 23, 1966 of the resolution "On measures to strengthen the fight against crime." It introduced petty hooliganism into the sphere of criminal law. In fact, every fifth offense committed was of this nature.

Soviet police on the poster

The period of Brezhnev's stagnation

Official statistics in these years underestimated the real numbers. Its discrepancy with reality was very strong, which could not but affect the perception of law enforcement agencies by society. The Soviet policeman, once a respected and feared figure, looked less and less like a law enforcement officer. The growing disintegration of social relations also played an important role. Nomenklatura officials committed more and more malfeasance, and bribery was widespread. Watching how the Soviet leadership violated their own laws, the population also did not particularly care about their implementation.

In the structure of criminal offenses, the number of domestic crimes committed while intoxicated is gradually increasing. In general, the number of cases submitted for consideration by the court from 1973 to 1983 has almost doubled. The classification of crimes committed in those years according to their nature is as follows:

  1. Hooliganism (25-28% of the total).
  2. Theft of socialist property (15-18%).
  3. Infringement on the property of individuals (14-16%).
  4. Crimes against the person - murder, grievous bodily harm, rape(6-7%).

Attempts to reform the system

The fact that the Soviet system of maintaining public order does not cope with its duties was clearly evidenced by the ratio between the rates of criminal record and registered crime. The ratio between them was, respectively, 503:739. In the short period of Yu.A. Andropov's tenure in power, an attempt was made to restore order in the work of law enforcement agencies. A special resolution adopted by the Secretary General on January 12, 1983, directly concerned the USSR Prosecutor General's Office. In statistical terms, this led to an increase in the number of crimes, since this normative act "revealed" offenses that occurred within this structure and tightened the preventive measures taken for them. However, Andropov's police methods, vividly reminiscent of Stalin's dictatorship, were not to the taste of the nomenklatura. Death prevented the General Secretary from fully realizing his intentions.

Organized crime in the USSR

The years of stagnation have become a time of rampant organized crime. One of the first was the Kazan group "Tyap-lyap", named after the colloquial version of the name of the plant "Teplokontrol". The leaders of this group promoted a cult of power among the rank-and-file members, thanks to which many visited the gyms. The gang often smashed discos and clubs, fought their competitors with methods of physical influence and elimination. The victims did not contact the police, not believing that they were able to stop the criminals.It was only on August 31, 1978 that the activities of the Kazan organized crime group were put to an end, when its leaders were sentenced to death, and the rest received high prison terms.

Gang of Mongol - one of the organized crime groups of the USSR

The proximity of local leaders to the highest echelons of power has caused rampant crime in Dnepropetrovsk. Since 1970, no inspections have been carried out in the city. Taking advantage of this, Alexander Milchenko created a criminal gang. His gang traded in racketeering. The local militia cooperated with the bandits, receiving a certain share of the booty for this. For this reason, not a single statement against Milchenko and his accomplices was given a move. Only the death of Brezhnev and the loss of a privileged position in Dnepropetrovsk made it possible for an investigative brigade to appear in the city.

Perestroika times

Summing up the review of the history of crime in the USSR, it should be noted that Mikhail Gorbachev's stay in power is characterized by liberalization not only in the economic and political spheres, but also in the field of combating crime. Glasnost made it possible to publish real statistics on criminal offenses, which again demonstrated the viciousness of the Soviet system. Gorbachev's fight against drunkenness and home brewing helped reduce the number of crimes committed while intoxicated.

In general, during the years of perestroika, there was a tendency to reduce crime. However, the preservation of command and control measures, the weakness of the economic base in the fight against the criminal world, as well as thelaw enforcement agencies of the USSR corruption did not allow to consolidate the effect. The growing crisis in political life, the destruction of Soviet ideals and even the emergence of a free market contributed to the fact that by the beginning of the 90s the number of crimes committed had increased dramatically. The collapse of the Soviet state, the termination of its laws and the lack of new ones led to the fact that criminal incidents in the republics that gained independence became the hallmark of the dashing 90s.

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