The Ded Khasan assassination attempt chatter

Inevitably, the attempted assassination of (Kurdish-)Russian kingpin Aslan Usoyan, ‘Ded Khasan’, has prompted the usual excited and sometime over-excited chatter. In the main, this presents the attack as part of the rumbling mob war between him and convicted Georgian kingpin Tariel Oniani, ‘Taro’.

However, Vesti has floated the rather dubious suggestion that the attack was to avenge the murder of Vyacheslav Ivankov, ‘Yaponchik.’ In this version, Usoyan had had Yaponchik killed while he was trying to broker a deal to end the long-running business-dispute-turned-feud with Oniani. Indeed, Vesti suggests that Oniani had eagerly sought an agreement but Usoyan refused to come to terms. This flies in the face of pretty much all the other information filtering out, as well as Oniani’s general approach, and seems based on little more than that Usoyan was shot in the stomach, like Ivankov. Rather than presenting this as some symbolic act, it more represents the fact that gunmen using Kalashnikovs (not the most accurate weapon, especially when also fitted with a silencer) shooting at targets who, shall we say, are not the leanest of men and have clearly enjoyed the good things in life, are almost always going to have to aim at the centre of gravity…

More interesting has been the suggestion in ExpertClub that Khasan had recently been expressing concern to other kingpins about the possible implications of the widely-touted removal of Moscow’s Mayor Luzhkov. Just as Oniani’s empire-building and evident disrespect for the norms and pecking order of the established underworld made him a threat, so too the increasing divisions within the elite, so many of whom have sheltered, protected and in turn profited from and been supported by the kingpins, poses challenges for that order. It will be interesting to see if the godfathers move from simply fearing the consequences of intra-elite political rivalries in the run-up to the 2012 political elections to beginning to take a more active role within them. And if so, whether they ‘vote’ as a bloc for the same candidate (which would presumably be Putin, under whom they know they can work and do well) or divide in the same way as the ‘upperworld’ elite.

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