Russian police made a rare swoop to arrest a number of alleged mafia kingpins at the weekend, raiding a restaurant get-together where crime groups were supposedly discussing their strategies.
The Interior Ministry said four crime bosses and 19 others were arrested in the raid on the Family Elite Club restaurant just outside Moscow. The ministry gave only nicknames for the four men: Timokha, The Crutch, Bear Cub and Paté.
The latter two are believed to have travelled to the meeting from neighbouring Belarus. Footage leaked to the Russian website Life News showed armed police in balaclavas pushing a number of men to the floor before marching them out of the restaurant.
Police ordered the raid after they found out that crime bosses were meeting to discuss “a series of questions of a criminal nature”, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry. “During the secret meeting, held under the cover of a celebration of the birthday of a senior so-called ‘criminal authority’, the plan was to discuss the next steps after the recent assassination of the head of the Aslan Usoyan ‘clan’.”
The 75-year-old Usoyan, known as Grandpa Khasan, was believed to be one of the most senior Russian crime bosses. He was gunned down outside his favourite restaurant in Moscow earlier this month.
The ministry said that those arrested at the weekend were linked to the clan of Tariel Oniani, a Georgian crime boss now in prison.