Rostov And Odessa: Chicago’s Criminal Siblings In Former Soviet Union

Russian and Ukrainian cities famous for their mafia history…

reksik004 (CC0), Pixabay

Why Rostov on Don is called – Papa (Daddy)? Historically, this city is one of the most criminal places in Russia. Odessa never legged. These two cities gave birth to the most notorious criminals in all Russian empire and then USSR. There were all kind of crimes that police had to deal with. But the most famous type of offences were theft and various scams in which skilled criminals achieved mastery.

In 1918 the “robbery of the century” happened in Rostov: early in the morning, after the Christmas holidays, the staffers of “First Mutual Credit Society” came to work. And what did they see? A hacked safe and a dug underground tunnel. They found several tens of millions of gold rubles missing. 435 investors lost their money and the crime was never solved.

Shortly before these events, reportedly, a thoroughly planned bank robbery happened in Odessa leaving police in thoughts. That’s where the “the married couple with the same interests” appeared – Rostov – papa, Odessa – mama. These names are connected with several stories of this kind that took place in that time. Probably, the thieves themselves will not be able to give an exact explanation why these two cities are called in a way we know.

Here’s several theories for that.

Rostov and Odessa have always been seaports with intensive trade and considerable money turnover. It dragged attention of the fans of easy money from all over the country. Hospitable Rostov, just like “a kind papa”, welcomed everyone and gave a place under the sun to everybody. It didn’t matter who these people were – merchants, artisans or criminals. Who is to blame that the thieves were of the biggest numbers of newcommers?

Philologist and historian Alexander Sidorov believes these names occured thanks to the “tramps”. At that time being a tramp was “in fashion”, kind of a special status. When the pilferer was arrested and asked where did he come from, he used to say – “mama – Odessa, papa – Rostov”. In 2010 a new excursion route was created in Rostov, following the notorious places in the city.

The brightest figure of all criminal bosses of all times was Mishka Yaponchik (Mishka the Japanese, real name Moishe-Yakov Volfovich Vinnitsky, 30.10.1891-04.08.1919)  – a famous raider from Odessa. Though his life was very short, his fame is still accompanies him till nowadays. Needless to say how many followers he had during his life and after death. A lot of movies have been shot telling Mishka Yaponchik’s story: “The First Courier” 1968, “Squadron Goes West” 1965, “Life and Adventures of Mishka Yaponchik” 2011 and many others.

What do you think?

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