Aslan Usoyan, 75, nicknamed "Gramps Khasan," was shot Wednesday as he left a restaurant, surrounded by bodyguards, RIA Novosti reported. Usoyan was described as one of the last of the crime bosses who got his start in the underground economy of the Soviet Union and became notorious in the 1990s as the Russian mob burst into the open.
No arrests have been made. Novosti said investigators believe Usoyan's killing may have been arranged by a rival from another organization.
Alexander Gurov, who battled organized crime in the 1980s as an agent of the Soviet Interior Ministry, said the Russian mob has, for the most part, achieved the kind of stability the Sicilian Mafia has in its homeland and the United States.
Bosses divide up territory and operate in certain parts of the economy, generally in illegal areas, while the police have the upper hand.
"It took the Sicilian mafia about two centuries, a few decades for the United States," Gurov said. "It took the Russian mafia two decades."
Vadim Volkov, a sociologist at the European University in St. Petersburg who studies the Russian mob, said "Organized crime has been marginalized in Russia in recent years, returning to the niche it is supposed to occupy."