Fenya – Talk like Russian Criminals: Unlocking the Colorful Language of the Underworld

Fenya – Talk like Russian Criminals: Unlocking the Colorful Language of the Underworld
29 May 2023

Hey again, пацаны, and welcome to the captivating world of Fenya, the secret language of Russian criminals. Prepare to unleash the vibrant phrases and expressions of Fenya, the secret language of Russian criminals, as you embark on a thrilling linguistic journey into the intriguing underworld of Russia. Whether you’re studying Russian at Liden and Denz Riga or simply seeking an exciting way to enhance your language skills, Fenya will transport you into the realm of the Russian underworld.

What is Fenya?

Fenya, also known as blatnaya mova or “thieves’ cant,” is an extraordinary slang used primarily among criminals and members of the Russian underworld. Originating in the early 20th century, Fenya emerged as a secret code to evade the prying eyes of the police and facilitate covert communication. Over time, Fenya has evolved into a rich and dynamic language with its own grammar, vocabulary, and syntax.

Unleashing the Secrets of Fenya

Far from being a mere niche language, Fenya offers a thrilling glimpse into Russian culture, history, and the mysterious world of crime. Learning Fenya provides you with a unique window into the social dynamics, folklore, and literature associated with the Russian underworld. To give you a taste of its vibrant lexicon, here are a few essential Fenya phrases:

  1. “Bitchina” – Money
  2. “Vory v zakone” – Thieves-in-law (a criminal hierarchy)
  3. “Krysha” – Protection
  4. “Barakhlo” – Jail
  5. “Kozel” – Fool

Incorporating Fenya into Your Russian Learning Journey

Studying Fenya is not only an educational endeavor but also an incredibly fun and unconventional way to enhance your Russian language skills. While we strongly discourage engaging in criminal activities, integrating Fenya expressions into your vocabulary can impress native speakers and deepen your understanding of Russian culture. Here are some tips to bring Fenya to life in your learning process:

  1. Dive into Research: Start by immersing yourself in Fenya vocabulary and expressions. Online resources and specialized references can provide you with a treasure trove of commonly used phrases to build a solid foundation. Be warned though – there’s no end of phrases and words – enough to fill a whole dictionary!

  2. Native Speaker Insights: Engage with native Russian speakers who have knowledge of Fenya. Liden and Denz Riga offers expert guidance and connects you with experienced teachers who can shed light on the intricacies of the language. Visit Liden and Denz Riga to discover more about their immersive Russian language courses.

  3. Embrace the Context: To truly grasp Fenya, delve into the cultural and historical context surrounding the criminal subculture. Explore tales, books, and songs that showcase the Russian underworld, allowing you to appreciate the language’s nuances and rich tapestry. Mikhail Krug, cult hero of Tver, is a great place to start – check out “Fraer“, here.

  4. Lights, Camera, Fenya: Watch Russian movies that depict the criminal underworld. Through the power of visual storytelling, you’ll immerse yourself in the world of Fenya, gaining a deeper understanding of its unique vocabulary and cultural connotations. Brat is a personal favourite of mine – reviewed here by Patrick, fellow intern.

  5. Unleash Your Inner Criminal (in a Safe Way): Engage in role-playing activities with fellow language learners or native speakers. Practice using Fenya expressions in a controlled and supportive environment, channeling your inner Russian gangster and boosting your confidence and fluency.


Learning Russian is already an exhilarating adventure, but unlocking the secrets of Fenya will take your language skills to a whole new level. Embrace the vibrant language of Russian criminals, immerse yourself in their unique lexicon, and gain a deeper appreciation for Russian culture and history. With Fenya as your guide, you’ll speak Russian like a true underworld aficionado (and probably impress your Russian friends while you’re at it).

Jacob, currently studying Russian at Liden and Denz, Riga. 

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