Russia Underworld Gathers for Aslan Usoyan’s Burial
Aslan Usoyan, a Russian underworld boss who was killed by a sniper on Wednesday as he walked out of a restaurant in downtown Moscow, was buried in a snowy plot of land under a wooden cross on Sunday in a cemetery just beyond the Moscow city limits.
The scene at Khovanskoye Cemetery — where black-clad toughs formed a procession in their Mercedes Geländewagens, and security officers told journalists to avoid the area for their own safety — was a modest one for a mobster of Mr. Usoyan’s status, perhaps in part because of the government’s efforts to avoid the pageantry that has unfolded around the funerals of Russian mob bosses in the past.
Mr. Usoyan, a Kurd born in 1937 in Tbilisi, Georgia, rose through the ranks of the Vory v Zakone, or Thieves-in-Law, a shadowy criminal organization that emerged in the Soviet prisons, to become boss of the Moscow underworld. Mr. Usoyan survived four stints in prison, the gang wars of the 1990s and two assassination attempts, including one in 2010.
Many of Mr. Usoyan’s contemporaries are interred at the best cemeteries in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but Mr. Usoyan’s relatives wanted him to be laid to rest in his birthplace. But a plane carrying Mr. Usoyan’s body was reportedly turned away from Georgia, fueling rumors that the country had refused to allow Mr. Usoyan to be buried there. (Membership in Thieves-in-Law carries a criminal sentence of more than five years in Georgia.) And then all the cemeteries inside the Moscow beltway turned away his relatives as they sought a burial place. (via NYTimes.com)