A court in Moscow has handed lengthy prison terms to two men after a jury found them guilty of killing the notorious crime kingpin Yaponchik (The Little Japanese) more than 12 years ago.
The Moscow City Court on December 13 sentenced Dzhambul Dzhanashia to 15 years, and Murtaz Shadania to 16 years in prison for the killing of Vyacheslav Ivankov.
The 69-year-old died in October 2009 from wounds he suffered in a sniper attack that occurred while he was leaving a restaurant in the Russian capital about three months earlier.
The Georgian-born Ivankov was a professional criminal and a crowned "thief-in-law," a title traditionally given among criminal groups in former Soviet republics to kingpins.
Shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he was unexpectedly released from prison in Russia where he had been serving a 14-year prison term for illegal firearm possession, forgery, and drug trafficking.
In March 1992, Ivankov moved to the United States, where he was arrested in 1995 and sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of extortion, fraud, and illegally entering the country.
He was extradited to Russia after spending almost 10 years in the U.S. prison system. He was tried and acquitted on murder charges in Moscow.
Ivankov was buried on October 13, 2009, at Moscow's Vagankovo cemetery, the resting place of many notable Soviet and Russian luminaries. The funeral was widely covered by the media as hundreds of kingpins representing criminal syndicates from all over the former Soviet Union attended.
Ivankov's assassination is thought to have been part of an ongoing gang war between Ivankov's close associate, notorious Moscow crime boss Aslan Usoyan, also known as Ded Khasan (Grandfather Khasan), and Georgian crime boss Tariel Oniani.
Usoyan, 75 and also Georgian-born, was similarly shot dead by a sniper while leaving a Moscow restaurant in January 2013.