Expert on Russian prison tattoos collects 20K pics




The man who reads Russian gangsters' minds... by looking at their tattoos: Criminal expert explains how they reveal everything from a crook's previous offences to their IQ


  • Arkady Bronnikov, 89, has collected more than 20,000 convict tattoos
  • One ring inking on a finger means one jail term; spiders mean drug users
  • Knives indicate someone has been jailed for hooliganism 
  • Ex-paratrooper has used his extensive knowledge to help Interpol

Show Arkady Bronnikov a Russian convict with tattoos and he'll know how long they've been in jail, what their crime was, and where they stand in the criminal hierarchy.

The 89-year-old former paratrooper has collected more than 20,000 tattoos from male and female prisoners - and is regarded as Russia's leading expert on criminal inkings.

Such is his reputation, foreign law enforcement agencies such as Interpol have called upon his expertise to aid them in investigations, including in the UK. 

'Our region has a lot of labour camps, including three jails for women,' said Bronnikov, from Perm, in the Urals. 'As I gathered material on drug addicts for my thesis, I paid attention to the tattoos.

'Then I started collecting them; at first, it was just a hobby. By 1985, I gathered more than 20,000, and not only from the Perm region, but also from neighbouring places.

'In 1989, I retired. Before this, I had published about 25 manuals, on drug abuse, jail slang - my dictionary has 10,000 words - and on tattoos,' he told Olga Gertcyk and Vera Salnitskaya from the Siberian Times.

'In medieval times, criminals were branded. Now they are not - but they mark themselves with tattoos, with some of them tattooed all over their bodies,' he added.

Convicts' tattoos in Russia are a sign of prestige and status among the criminal fraternity, Bronnikov said.

'The difference between Russian and Soviet tattoos from those in the West is that the Western ones have no criminal tradition,' explained the veteran criminologist, who has been consulted on solving countless crimes............







Arkady Bronnikov has collected more than 20,000 tattoos from male and female prisoners - and is regarded as Russia's leading expert on criminal inkings

'If a criminal made himself a wrong tattoo, bit more than he can chew - and in jails they check everything better than the police, where you were jailed, who was with you - this man will be seriously punished, beaten... or buggered,' said the tattoo expert

'Tattoos can tell important things about a person, for example, how many times he was jailed,' said Bronnikov. 'The body is often covered with clothes so they make tattoos as rings on fingers. One ring means one jail term. In my collection, there is a man with 16 rings'
'They do not have special ink there [in prison]. The substance was and is done in the same way: they burn a piece of rubber and add urine of the man for whom the tattoo is being made. They draw a picture and prick it. It is very painful but a thief with authority can't live without tattoos'
'Some general rules: crosses often depict the thief's level of authority. Thieves are the ones ruling in jails, not murderers'

Bronnikov is pictured , soon after his marriage to Antonina

Bronnikov  lectured for more than a quarter of a century on criminal science at the Perm Department of the USSR Interior Ministry Academy, and among his students were eight graduates who went to hold the rank of general

The detail of some jailhouse tattoos are freaking awesome, considering the tools.

Sometimes they use cigarette ashes for ink, not even burnt rubber. Phone Post 3.0

TryhardNobody - No hand jobs from his wife thanks
She's got some mitts on her for sure. Phone Post 3.0


Imagine what would happen to a Hipster with tattoos at a Russian prison.

Checkers make for good tat Phone Post 3.0

Is that baby bugs bunny wallpaper they got in their kitchen? Phone Post 3.0

Sub for later Phone Post 3.0