Let's suppose some students gather every evening in a student dormitory and make loud noise till late night by playing guitar, talking, singing, laughing, etc., and a female student from the same dormitory reports them to the dean after unsuccessful attempts to resolve the issue by talking directly with the students. One night the dean comes to the dormitory to verify the complaint and witnesses everything himself. Those students are now in deep trouble and are facing a university hearing, with some of them being now in real danger of getting kicked out of the university in view of some previous issues and poor academic records. You want to praise the girl for blowing the whistle. What will you call her in Russian?

I know a few Russian words synonymous to whistleblower, but they seem to be highly negative - ябеда, доносчик, стукач.

I also know some rather neutral words such as информатор and осведомитель, but these words are too generic, meaning informer rather than whistleblower, and still lack a positive connotation.

Is there a positive Russian word for a person who voluntarily and on his or her own initiative reports someone to authorities in a one-off report, having not been recruited as an informer beforehand?

  • 1
    I'd suggest the neutral податель жалобы. A similar single word жалобщик means a person who always complains about something.
    – Alex_ander
    Jan 4, 2020 at 20:00

6 Answers 6


I think there is a good word изобличитель. In my opinion it suits perfectly. It has positive meaning for people who think that being a prophet gains a profit =) For people who think that unveiling someone’s guiltiness is a good thing to do. Some call Edward Snowden a hero, many others call him a traitor. Those who think he’s a hero can say he is изобличитель преступлений американских спецслужб.

  • I like this one!
    – shabunc
    Jan 13, 2020 at 16:32
  • I like this one too
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 13, 2020 at 20:46

I don't think there's a single Russian noun to capture all the nuances of the term "whistleblower."

When you are reporting a situation to the authorities, the usual response is спасибо за сигнал, literally "thank you for your signal."

I remember seeing the word сигнальщик as an attempt to translate "whistleblower," but I don't think it has gained any traction.

The stereotype holds it that the anonymous tips are usually signed доброжелатель ("well-meaning person") or неравнодушный гражданин ("concerned citizen"). They do not carry the negative connotation, but people use them mostly in ironical sense. The former more so than the latter, so the latter can mean "whistleblower," too, although its meaning is, of course, broader than just "whistleblower."


No. Whistleblower is a new concept in Russia because in XX century we were dominated by state-owned enterprises, in which case the word диссидент would be more appropriate (so Snowden for instance can be called диссидент in Russian because he worked for government). But the word seems inappropriate to refer to private enterprises.


"Is there a positive Russian word for a person who voluntarily and on his or her own initiative reports someone to authorities in. .." - I think no.

But we have words for soldiers who monitor enemies and guard, f.e. "дозорный", "часовой".

But really, this doesn't be appropriate for such students - that is, it will sound not only negative (because it's Russian morale) then - but also very pathos-ironic, mocking.

"..as информатор and осведомитель," - and this is really have negative connotations too, it's more officially synonym for "стукач" :)


For positive description, you can try using

забить в набат, as in

Забив в набат, он оповестил всех о случившейся беде.

In your example, though, you would need to decide first whether you evaluate the actions of the person reporting to the dean positively, neutrally or negatively.

Забив в набат, она сообщила о творящихся безобразиях зам.декану, который явился поздней ночью в общежитие вместе с дружинниками, и навёл там порядок. (positive)

По роду свох обязанностей, ей, после долгого терпения, пришлось сообщить об эксцессах своих сокурсников зам.декану. Он нагрянул этой же ночью с дружинниками в общежитие. С шумом и гамом было покончено. (neutral)

Никто её за язык не тянул, и всё же она настучала университетскому начальству о мелких прегрешениях студентов. Зам. декана этой же ночью устроил облаву с дружинниками. Загребли всех, кто попался под горячую руку. Тех, кто был без связей, выгнали из университета. Этого ей до сих пор никто не простил.(negative)

  • It's usually "забить тревогу" but "бить в набат", not "забить".
    – shabunc
    Sep 17, 2020 at 10:57
  • 1
    Согласно Большому русско-английскому фразеологическому словарю, допускается как форма "бить в набат", так и форма "забить в набат". Первая форма подчёркивает сам процесс, а вторая - начало действия.
    – ゑ01
    Sep 17, 2020 at 11:48
  • я о фактическом словоупотреблении - погуглите по первой и по второй форме.
    – shabunc
    Sep 17, 2020 at 12:35
  • Это не существительное, прежде всего. Oct 9, 2021 at 1:31

As a concept, this is a noun describing an individual's behavior. Its connotation is neutral, but leaning towards positive, in English.

In Russian, nouns (describing behaviors with negative connotations) can have those connotations reversed by appending "-молодец" to them. It can be roughly translated as saying "but a heroic one." It expresses the same sentiment as the 2nd part of the sentence (the one after the comma) in the phrase "he is a bastard, but he is our bastard."

So, while I do think the accepted answer is the best neutral one, if you want to add a more enthusiastically positive spin to "whistleblower", you can do it in a colloquial context with "стукач-молодец."

But you can only do this when you want to convey a genuine enthusiasm for the whistleblower's actions. Using this much enthusiasm, in a context in which the enthusiasm seems over the top, would come off as sarcasm.

As a suggestion though, maybe an "accuser", rather than a "whistleblower" is another way to characterize the person in the described context.

In that context, истец maybe suitable. Apparently, that's the word for a plaintiff seeking justice/restitution (in a court setting). It has the same root as иск, which translates as a "law suit." The same dictionary link also describes истец as "податель жалобы."

  • 1
    "стукач-молодец" is a very strange suggestion.
    – shabunc
    Oct 2, 2021 at 19:29
  • @shabunc maybe because you find the concept of стукач-as-a-hero strange.
    – grovkin
    Oct 2, 2021 at 19:47
  • @shabunc like I said, "изобличитель" is probably the best formal translation, but I don't think it would be used in a colloquial context.
    – grovkin
    Oct 9, 2021 at 20:47

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