Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Power Vertical

Podcast: Thieves' World

The brazen daylight assassination in Moscow this week of Aslan Usoyan, a leading mafia kingpin known as "Ded Khasan" (Grandpa Khasan), has turned a bright spotlight on Russia's criminal underworld amid fears that the hit could spark a broader mob war.

Usoyan was no ordinary mobster. He was one of the few remaining "vori v zakone," or "thieves in law," legendary Soviet-era gangsters who sport elaborate tattoos, use colorful slang, and follow unwritten prison codes of conduct that date back to the Gulag. The "vori" have been romanticized in Russian lore and popular songs for decades.

This week's edition of "The Power Vertical Podcast" takes an in-depth look at the Usoyan hit as well as examining the Russian underworld, its culture and mores, and its relationship to the state.

Joining me are co-hosts Kirill Kobrin of RFE/RL's Russian Service, NYU Professor Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian organized crime and author of the blog "In Moscow's Shadows," and special guest Merhat Sharipzhanov, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Central Newsroom.

Power Vertical Podcast -- January 18, 2013
Power Vertical Podcast -- January 18, 2013i
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Listen to or download the podcast above, or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.

Tags: Power Vertical podcast,Aslan Usoyan,Russian organized crime

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Comment Sorting
by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
January 19, 2013 03:44
"thieves in law," legendary Soviet-era gangsters who sport elaborate tattoos, use colorful slang....."
You are wrong, Mr.Whitmore.
Among thieves in law were many people who did not have any tattoos, they were people with aristocratic manners and loved to dress from famous fashion designers.
The next time when you will be write about Sedyukov and his mistress Vasilyeva уou can name your article:
.............................Russian Thieves' World.................................
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 20, 2013 19:47
You are bloody right dear Vakhtangian djan,its a Russian thieves` world.The mind boggles,however why all these thieves come from Georgia and its bedfellow ally-Azeristan and why all these criminals choose to work in Moscow,like good old Vahe did???
In Response

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
January 21, 2013 02:37
Who are the main thieves in law in Moscow, is well known.
The names two of them I mentioned above.But there is still the most important, he was born in Leningrad.
I am sure that Mr. Whitmore will strain his brains and correctly determine who it is.
All other lower rank, Kurds by nationality:
Grandpa Khasan
Shakro Young
Jura Sochi
Myron Yaroslavl
Thus, "dear" camel, the кurds are not the last people in this World..

In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 21, 2013 11:42
Aaah,Vahe djan,we all know everything about ded-grandfather Hasan from Georgia,but what about his spouse-bab-that is babushka Vahtan also from Georgia,and now in Moscow,selling second hand nappies at the central train station,or by the bolshaya river.And we all know these are petty criminals compared with the political ones-your fave Gaz-raz-Putin whose nickname is Stalin light by the name of his fave role model who is Georgian,we all suppose isnt he??? And you forgot the greatest kurd of today-Ali Babaliev-a great friend of the georgian people,supplying them with cheap petrol just as you supply us with your regular servings of hot thin air!!!
In Response

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
January 21, 2013 16:13
You're wrong, camel.
In Moscow, I catch stray camels and try to teach them good manners but if they are stupid, we send them to the zoo.. but not as an animal....camels are also good food for the tigers...especially those that without brains....

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or