One of Russia’s most notorious criminal masterminds, Mafia godfather Aslan Usoyan, also known as ‘Grandpa Hassan’, was shot dead by a sniper rifle in central Moscow on Wednesday, police said.
A sniper armed with a suppressed Spetsnaz rifle fired at Usoyan from the roof of a nearby house as the 75-year-old was walking out of a restaurant in Moscow’s Arbat district.
His bodyguards failed to cover him in time, and the crime boss died from his injuries soon after he was taken to hospital.
“Usoyan was taken to Botkin Hospital in deep coma, unconscious, but was still breathing, and his heart was beating,” a hospital source told Interfax. Ten minutes later, he failed to regain consciousness and died in the hospital’s emergency surgery room, the source added.
A woman walking out of the restaurant at the same time as Usoyan was taken to the hospital with serious chest and hip injuries. She is currently in intensive care undergoing surgery, RIA Novosti quoted a public healthcare official as saying. The woman turned out to be “just a passerby” and according to Interfax worked for the restaurant in Povarskaya Street.
‘Grandpa Hassan’ had managed to survive at least two previous assassination attempts: A would-be killer missed him in Sochi in 1998, and another one seriously injured Usoyan and his bodyguard in a 2010 Moscow shooting.
The ‘godfather’ had lately become a target in a war between criminal clans, the police said. The 2010 and 2013 sniper shootings “are connected and have apparently been prepared by the same people,” a police source told Interfax.
A criminal case over murder and illicit possession of arms has been opened, Russia’s investigation committee said in a statement. Various versions, including ones connected with Usoyan’s criminal activity, are being considered, the statement added.
Usoyan, an ethnic Kurdish Yezidi mobster, started his criminal career in Georgia, where he earned his first jail term for fighting police at the age of 19.
While in jail on speculation charges from 1966 to 1968, he acquired the status of ‘thief in law’ – marking his standing among the elite of the Soviet and post-Soviet criminal underworld.
In recent years, ‘Grandpa Hassan’ was widely suspected of controlling various organized criminal groups that dealt in illegal gambling, arms and drug trafficking, and the theft of natural resources.
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