Slain mafia boss buried in Moscow


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The Independent Online

Aslan Usoyan, the Russian mafia kingpin who was shot dead in broad daylight last week, was buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of Moscow in a carefully guarded ceremony yesterday.

Usoyan, 75, better known by his nickname "Grandpa Khasan", was killed by a sniper after leaving his favourite restaurant in central Moscow. He was one of the last of the "thieves-in-law", the mafia overlords who originated in the Soviet gulag prison camps.

Usoyan, an ethnic Yezidi Kurd who began his criminal career in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, was buried in the Khovansky Cemetery just outside Moscow.

His relatives had wanted him laid to rest in his birthplace of Tbilisi, but Georgian officials refused permission for the aircraft carrying his remains to land, and the coffin was returned to Moscow on Saturday.

Several minibuses with blacked-out windows accompanied the hearse to the cemetery yesterday, and about 100 cars, mainly black sports utility vehicles, were admitted to the grounds. Press and other bystanders were not allowed in. It is believed that criminal authorities from across Russia and the former Soviet Union were in attendance.

Usoyan was shot in the head by a sniper hiding in the stairwell of a block of flats across the road from the Azerbaijani restaurant he was known to frequent. Police say the assassin used a Val rifle, an elite weapon used by Russian special forces. Their inquiry continues.