Two international news stories came bursting out of the strange carnival world that is the former Soviet Union in the last day or so really captured my interest and seemed worth sharing.
First up, the so-called “King of the Russian Mob,” Aslan Usoyan – or “Grandpa Hassan” if you knew him well – was shot by a sniper today on his way out of a restaurant. Gramps, who was actually a Kurd, started his criminal career in Georgia (incidentally where today’s other great story comes from).
Back in Soviet times, Georgia and other countries in the Caucasus region were notorious for being arteries of black market goods coming into the USSR, a practice that was more or less tolerated by corrupt government officials. The situation was such that the criminal elite were known as vory v zakone, or “thieves in law.”
As RT reported, Grandpa Hassan was one of those thieves in law. Seeing as “the theft of natural resources” was listed as one of his crimes, he probably still had close ties to political elites in control of the country’s resources. Such a position tends to attract lots of enemies, and Hassan had already survived two other sniper attacks, which were apparently connected and ordered by the same people.
Paradoxically however, the death of Russia’s biggest and most well-known criminal overlord may actually make things more dangerous for the average person.
In an interview with Komsomalskaya Pravda, Viktor Gladkikh, former employee of the research wing of the Russian Ministry of the Interior, argued that “this murder, without a doubt, shocked the criminal world. The fact is, that it had long been stabilized with thieves-in-law and authorities [working together]. In contrast with the 1990’s, people aren’t being shot every day.” In his analysis, the criminal world might destabilize without Hassan’s powerful presence. So it goes in Absurdistan.
And speaking of Absurdistan, in other news, “Georgian prosecutors on Tuesday accused top former defence ministry officials of organising the secret filming of gay sex videos allegedly involving high-ranking figures to blackmail them into co-operating with the security services.”
Words simply escape me, but I’ll leave you with a hint that that’s a mad literal example of some Foucauldian sex and power discourse (or something).
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