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
Crime War Brews in City Hosting 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)

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." (Read more Sochi stories.)

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