Russian mobster 'Grandpa Khasan' shot dead in Moscow

 

One of Russia's top crime bosses has been murdered in Moscow in a war between two mobs over lucrative construction projects, including ones for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

A sniper fired seven shots at Aslan Usoyan near a restaurant, the third attack on him since the late 1990s.

Usoyan, also known as Grandpa Khasan, was a 75-year-old ethnic Kurd born in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Police say for the past two decades he headed one of the region's most powerful criminal groups, which trafficked in drugs and weapons and controlled underground casinos as well as many legal businesses, including those in the construction industry.

The gunman, who used a state-of-the-art automatic rifle issued to Russian special forces, also injured a passer-by.

Usoyan came from a caste of professional criminals who sport elaborate tattoos, follow unwritten prison laws codified in Stalinist-era Gulags and have been romanticised in countless popular songs.

He was first convicted in 1956 in Georgia and soon became a professional criminal. Like other members of his caste, he was strictly forbidden from befriending men in uniform, avoided luxurious lifestyles, never got married and considered prison his only true home.

Having survived the totalitarian system that spawned them, Russian criminals enjoyed a heyday in the decade after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. Usoyan opened a chain of casinos in Moscow and became the keeper of an emergency fund for jailed Russian criminals - a position that gave him immense authority in the criminal underworld of the vast former Soviet Union.

By the early 2000s, he had consolidated control over criminal groups in southern Russia that united natives of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as ethnic Russians. He feuded with mobsters who became more like Italian mafia and often disregarded Soviet-era prison norms.

Since 2006, Usoyan had been at war with a criminal group headed by another Georgian, Tariel Oniani, according to organised crime experts.

Russian media said the battle between the two clans had intensified in recent years as they vied for control over construction projects in southern Russia, including the huge sports facilities being built for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine