The leader of a powerful Russian mob syndicate has been assassinated in downtown Moscow, a short distance from the Kremlin, in what authorities are calling a brewing mob war.
Police revealed that a gunman fired a total of seven shots from a high-powered sniper rifle at mob boss Aslan Usoyan, 75, as he was exiting Karetny Dvor, a popular restaurant in central Moscow. Officials also stated that this was the third assassination attempt in the past few decades.
Authorities stated that Usoyan was hit in the face, and doctors were unable to save him after he slipped into a coma. The gunman, in his quest to bring down Usoyan, injured an unidentified female who was rushed to the hospital but was expected to recover.
Reports indicate that Usoyan, who also was known as Grandpa Khasan, was born in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. As an ethnic Kurd he led one of the region's most notorious and powerful criminal organizations. At one point during the 1990's his organization controlled much of southern Russia, including the Caucasus.
Usoyan oversaw underlings which were involved in drug and weapons trafficking and ran several underground casinos. He was also a big player in the construction industry.
His arrest record is lengthy with many convictions related to weapons and drug possession. In 1984 he was sentenced to 15 years for selling counterfeit gold coins, but was released in 1991.
Usoyan was the target of an assassination attempt in September 2010 when he was shot in the stomach, also in central Moscow.
Usoyan still holds a heavy influence in the region and politicians are fearful that his death will lead to a larger turf war.
"I am sure that a new criminal redistribution will begin now," Alexander Khinshtein, member of the security committee, according to Interfax.