A 31-year-old mob boss died today under a “hail of bullets,” quite possibly in retaliation for the assassination of Aslan “Grandpa Khasan” Usoyan Jan. 16.Astamur Guliya, a recently “made” mafioso, was leaving a restaurant in Georgia when a silver Mercedes pulled up and gunmen opened fire. His death comes only a week following the assassination of Usoyan, who was killed when a sniper wielding a “military rifle” shot him in the neck.
Uberto Bacchi of the International Business Times reports that Usoyan and Guliya weren’t just bitter rivals, but their gangland leadership styles were on two ends of the extreme. Usoyan was of an old order of gangsters, whereas Guliya was part of a new breed, one seeking to supplant Usoyan.
Guliya was known to be flashier and louder than the older gangsters. He was also an ally of Usoyan’s rival, Azerbaijani gangster Rovshan Janiyev, and was made a mob leader during a gathering of mafia bosses opposed to Usoyan in the United Arab Emirates.
Usoyan referred to Guliya as the “pretender,” a nickname derived from Guliya’s perceived lack of experience, and which highlights the differences between the two men. Usoyan’s death drew speculation from every corner about the possible emergence of a gang war. Russian police seemed to brace for impact once news hit the headlines.
“The killing of such an influential figure cannot go without revenge from his supporters,” Alexander Khinshtein, a Russian MP, told the Independent following Usoyan’s assassination. “This is likely to bring about a new wave of attacks and murders.”
Some analysts seem to think the problems stem from competition over construction contracts for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Bid rigging is a very old, highly lucrative illegal business for criminals, but it’s also deadly.
Russian security and underworld expert, and New York University professor, Mark Galeotti says the agreements which brought the end of violence in the 90s are unravelling. Current mobsters regard them as “ancient” and irrelevant.
As if all this were not enough, there are factional, ethnic and above all generational tensions. Usoyan was very much one of the last of the old order, and the newcomers are either thuggish (though not necessarily stupid) gangsters who enjoy calling themselvesvory v zakone (‘thief within the code’) like the old, Gulag-era leaders, without accepting the limitations of that code, or else they are criminal-entrepreneurs, largely Russian, eagerly on the make.
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