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Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in Soviet criminal law, one of the most dangerous crimes against the foundations of state administration and public safety. According to the law of Dec. 25,1958, On Criminal Responsibility for State Crimes (art. 14), banditry is categorized as a state crime. Banditry consists in the organization of armed bands for the purpose of attacking state or social institutions or enterprises or individual persons; participation in such bands and in the attacks committed by them is equally regarded as banditry. (See art. 77 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR and the corresponding articles of the criminal codes of other Union Republics.) In criminal law, a band is conceived to be a stable group of armed individuals who are intimately linked with each other by aims of criminal activity and who unite expressly to commit one or more attacks on state or social institutions or enterprises or individual persons.

The simultaneous presence of three factors is considered evidence of banditry: (1) the participation of two or more people; (2) the possession of arms, even if by only one member, and the knowledge of this fact by all members of the band; and (3) the cohesion and organization of the participants. A band may be armed not only with weapons whose keeping and carrying is prohibited by law but with any other weapons and objects that are specially adapted for attacking and injuring people (for example, brass knuckles and bludgeons). The crime of banditry is considered as committed from the moment an armed band is organized, even if this band has not committed a single attack, since the very establishment of an armed band constitutes a great danger. The individuals who organize the armed band as well as those who join such a band face criminal responsibility. Those who have attained the age of 16 are subject to responsibility for banditry. The punishment for banditry is deprivation of freedom for a period of three to 15 years with confiscation of property and, in some cases, with exile for a period of two to five years; however, under particularly aggravating circumstances of guilt, the punishment is death with confiscation of property. During the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s, incidents of banditry in the USSR were extremely rare, and the articles of the criminal code regulating responsibility for banditry have received almost no application.

In the criminal law of foreign socialist countries, the responsibility for banditry is regulated essentially in the same manner as by Soviet law.

Criminal law in bourgeois states does not provide for banditry as a special form of crime. However, the laws of these countries include similar forms of crime—armed robbery, various acts of violence, and others. In modern imperialist states, first and foremost in the USA, banditry is one of the forms of organized crime. Groups of gangsters, which sometimes unite into trusts and syndicates, are frequently employed as instruments of political terror to suppress and destroy political opponents (for example, the murders of President J. Kennedy in 1963 and Senator R. Kennedy and M. L. King in 1968). A considerable number of bandit groups of youths appeared in Great Britain in the 1960’s, such as the Trogs, Birdors, and Cannibals—an alliance of gangsters; they engaged in the narcotics trade and larceny and caused street disorders. In Italy a political gang, the so-called Mafia, terrorizes whole regions of the country. During the 1960’s and 1970’s such crimes as assault with intent to rob and the use of weapons in the commission of crimes have been on the increase. (For example, in Japan between 1959 and 1960 the number of sidearms and pistols seized in the course of arrests increased by a factor of 1.5 and the number of shotguns by at least a factor of 3.)


During the first years of Soviet power, the enemies of the Soviet state utilized banditry as one of the acute forms of struggle against Soviet rule for achieving their political goals. Political banditry attained its greatest scope between 1918 and 1921 (Makhnovshchina, the Grigor’ev Mutiny, An-tonovshchina, and so forth). Defeated on the fronts of the Civil War, the foreign and domestic counterrevolution employed the methods of organized political banditry extensively: it recruited former White officers, Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, anarchists, and other anti-Soviet elements into bands. Foreign secret services and émigré anti-Soviet centers formed armed bands from the remnants of the routed White armies that had fled abroad. These bands invaded Soviet territory. In Middle Asia, political banditry in the form of basmachestvo was inspired by the British secret service.

The bands operating in the USSR directed their actions against Soviet institutions, party organs, and their representatives; they pillaged and destroyed structures contributing to the national economy. Bandits attempted to undermine the Soviet regime’s authority among the people, instigating them to undertake armed struggle against it. Political banditry also appeared in the period of collectivization of agriculture. Bands of kulaks and former White Guard members terrorized the rural population, killed organizers of kolkhozes, and destroyed kolkhoz property. During the prewar years, as well as during the first years after the Great Patriotic War, political bands operated in Western Ukraine, Byelorussia, and the Baltic Soviet republics. Political bands were inspired and led by various nationalist organizations similar to the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. They were in the service of the intelligence organs of fascist Germany and, after its defeat, the secret services of the USA, Great Britain, and the Federal Republic of Germany. In the first years after the war, the organs of state security, with the active assistance of the population, liquidated the remnants of the bands in the USSR and completely suppressed their activity.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
"And what are these Corsican bandits doing here with Spanish smugglers?"
Very often the bandits are hard pressed by gendarmes or carbineers; well, they see a vessel, and good fellows like us on board, they come and demand hospitality of us; you can't refuse help to a poor hunted devil; we receive them, and for greater security we stand out to sea.
"But these two Corsican bandits?" said Franz, calculating the chances of peril.
"It is not their fault that they are bandits, but that of the authorities."
"Well," said the young man, "let us demand hospitality of these smugglers and bandits. Do you think they will grant it?"
On the other hand, he was about to land, without any other escort than these men, on an island which had, indeed, a very religious name, but which did not seem to Franz likely to afford him much hospitality, thanks to the smugglers and bandits. The history of the scuttled vessels, which had appeared improbable during the day, seemed very probable at night; placed as he was between two possible sources of danger, he kept his eye on the crew, and his gun in his hand.
"Bah!" said he, "I have travelled through Sicily and Calabria -- I have sailed two months in the Archipelago, and yet I never saw even the shadow of a bandit or a pirate."
Sometimes I amuse myself by delivering some bandit or criminal from the bonds of the law.
In the name of that young lady you love, and whom you perhaps believe dead but who is not!" cried the bandit, throwing himself upon his knees and leaning upon his hand--for he began to lose his strength with his blood.
A leather pocketbook, a purse, in which was evidently a part of the sum which the bandit had received, with a dice box and dice, completed the possessions of the dead man.
BERWICK BANDITS 52 BIRMINGHAM BRUMMIES 38 FOR the fourth time in eight days the Berwick Bandits came to the tapes for Championship points, this time at home to the Birmingham Brummies.
2 cops hurt in Sulu Abu attack !-- -- Roel Pareao (The Philippine Star) - August 20, 2019 - 12:00am ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines Abu Sayyaf bandits fired at a convoy of police vehicles in Patikul, Sulu yesterday, triggering clashes that left two police officers wounded.