“Сыщик из воров” Ванька Каин: анатомия “гибрида”
The article tells the story of the mid-eighteenth-century criminal-turned-headhunter, Ivan (Van'ka) Kain. The Russian early imperial legal system did not know the modern practice of police detective work: crown officials became concerned in criminal offenses only when the offense involved a formal denunciation of the alleged perpetrator by the victim, who also had to sponsor the ensuing investigation. The authorities disregarded unreported crimes or crimes by unknown culprits. A petty criminal, Ivan Kain, surrendered himself to the Moscow police and proposed to denounce his fellow criminals to the authorities. This legal procedure fitted the established juridical protocol, but the role assumed by Kain was radically novel. Throughout the 1740s, he acted as a skillful police detective, identifying and apprehending hundreds of criminals. The authorities put a military taskforce under his command (at some point reaching two dozen troops), and he conducted searches and arrests on his own initiative. An illiterate peasant, Kain twice testified before the imperial Senate, and secured official immunity from denunciations by other criminals. Yet he never had the actual status of a government agent or a salary, and formally remained a private person. He thus had to cover his rising expenses by offering detective and collector services to Muscovites, which eventually got him involved in outright criminal business of racketeering and blackmailing. Kain's hybrid official status as a private individual performing the functions of a government agent reflected the transitional character of the Russian imperial state. As yet, no legal and institutional framework could accommodate this new police detective work as a government service. Thus, state officials co-opted a representative of the society to perform police functions rather than planting a government agent in the midst of the society to conduct the detective work.