“Better be jailed than saint”
At the turn of the 20th century, Nikolaevka was a working class suburb of Krasnoyarsk. Today it is densely inhabited by those with a criminal past and present. The Trans-Siberian railway and a concrete wall built along its right of way separate this ghetto of sorts from downtown Krasnoyarsk.
Zhenya, a resident of Nikolayevka. Zhenya’s mother who has two more children, works as a cleaner for the railway and lives with a hard-core criminal who was recently released from jail.
Andrei Perets, owner of a malina – a hideout where those released from jail may come and live for a while deciding what to do or where to go.
This Orthodox chapel on the Watch Hill overlooking Krasnoyarsk is well known to all Russians because it features on the 10-ruble notes, thus making it a symbol of money rather than faith.
Eduard, a hard-core criminal and a tatooer. He spent more than a half of his 39 years behind bars.
The high security prison #6 is located in the middle of a residential neighbourhood in Krasnoyarsk. When the Soviet Union was approaching its demise in October 1991, a large-scale mutiny took place here with hostage-taking and victims. The inmates held power for more than a month having seized weapons from the guards. From this mutiny, a whole wave of prison upheavals has begun, sweeping over the country at the end of the USSR.
An icon of Christ in Andrei Perets’ home.
Father Valery Soldatov once chaired a diocesan department in charge of prisons. Andrei Perets worked for him in his church as a sacristan and even wore a cassock. Then their paths diverged. Father Valery believes hard-core criminals are practically impossible to rectify. ‘Maybe someone succeeded in it but not me”, - he says.
A tomb of a Gypsy headman
Station square in Krasnoyarsk. Railway stations have always been a magnet for petty criminals. Those traveling along the Trans-Siberian Railway may be offered “drugs” – the so-called “hashish” which in fact is a mix of dried chewing gum, ash and tobacco.
A tattoo depicting a woman in a Nazi cap showing off her breasts. During Soviet times, tattooed Nazi symbols were very popular among criminals as they symbolised their resistance against the "system".
River Yenisei near Krasnoyarsk. During Soviet times, it saw thousands of prisoner transports taking convicts up north to Norilsk and other Arctic parts of the GULAG archipelago.
Sasha Gromadsky, 41, took part in the mutiny that broke out at high security prison #6 in Krasnoyarsk in October 1991. Gromadsky is not his family name but a nickname: he served one of his terms in a remote Siberian village of Gromadsk.
Graffiti in central Krasnoyarsk.
Those recently released from jail may come to Andrei Perets' hideout in Nikolaevka and live for a while deciding what to do and where to go.
Siberian landscape

A criminal tatooer’s hand.
Simple living at Andrei's hideout
A tattooed star on the knee means "Will never get down on my knees before a cop".
A motto tattooed on Andrei's feet that may loosely be translated as “You never get a blowjob from a cop, you never escape from Krasnoyarsk Gulag”.
Andrei Perets with his girlfriend Valentina aka Valentos.
A man poses for picture in a T-shirt with the logo of a local radio station that broadcasts criminal songs - the so-called shanson.
Badalyk Cemetery in Krasnoyarsk where many criminal bosses and fighters killed during the mid-1990s mafia wars are buried.