Crime War Brews in City Hosting Winter Olympics

Sochi remains tense after mob assassinations

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 4, 2013 7:45 PM CST

(Newser) – A city with subtropical weather and palm trees already seemed an odd choice for the Winter Olympics. Now fears of an all-out mafia war are rising in Sochi, Russia's host city for the 2014 games, the Guardian reports. The assassination of top mobster Aslan Usoyan in January left a power vacuum in this Black Sea resort, where some 400 high-rises are under construction and an estimated $50 billion is pouring in before the Olympics. "Where there is money, there is organized crime," says a Russian crime reporter. Sochi "was [Usoyan's] fiefdom. He considered it a second homeland."

The 75-year-old "thief-in-law"—a high rank among Russian criminals—owned no property in Sochi, but was "like a governor here ... from the criminal world," says a source linked to Sochi's security services. "It's like a second government." His death by sniper rifle was followed by the drive-by assassination of a mafia lieutenant and a thief-in-law's killing in Moscow. Officials even arrested crime boss Rovshan Dzhaniyev, possibly to stave off a Sochi turf war. Now the city is eerily quiet, says the security source: "Everyone is waiting to see what will come next. The money is too big for everything to just sit still."

An old Soviet style statue of a reindeer breeder, left, is seen over the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
An old Soviet style statue of a reindeer breeder, left, is seen over the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, May 19, 2011, an old Soviet style statue, right, seen over the sea port in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
In this photo taken on Thursday, May 19, 2011, an old Soviet style statue, right, seen over the sea port in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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