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Austrian police apprehend alleged Russian mafia murderer

Austrian police apprehend alleged Russian mafia murderer
Austrian investigators from the Federal Criminal Police Office arrested a Russian man accused of murdering at least six people as part of mafia activities, at the Vienna Central Station on Saturday.
The 44-year-old suspect known as "Aslan G." had been wanted by Interpol Moscow through an international arrest warrant, the Federal Criminal Police Office said in a statement over the arrest Monday.
The suspect is alleged to have been involved in mafia activities of a violent nature, taking over the leadership of his gang following the life imprisonment of his older brother, moving from expensive car theft to the illegal liquor production business in Russia.
He is accused of executing six people and leaving a further three seriously injured, including the mayor of the town of Vladikavkaz in 2008, along with other high-ranking government and security officials.
Russian police cracked down on the gang in October 2013 following public outcry, upon which they were busted, a weapons arsenal seized, and police uniforms found. It later became clear however that the gang leader had fled to Vienna.
Despite having a fake Bulgarian passport on him, the suspect, who had been surprised over the arrest but offered no resistance, admitted his true identity immediately. He was transported to prison in Josefstadt, from where he will be extradicted

Russian Mobster with Fake Bulgarian Passport Arrested in Vienna

Austrian police have arrested a 44-year-old Russian national wanted for six counts of murder.
Aslan G., the alleged head of a Russian organized crime ring involved in the murders of politicians and senior officials, was arrested at Vienna's main train station on Saturday, according to reports of Die Presse and Der Standard.
He did not resist arrest.
He was found to have a forged Bulgarian passport.
Aslan G., (Aslan Gagiev, according to reports of The Local Austria), faces charges of shooting dead at least six people and injuring three others in the period 2012-2013.
He is to be extradited to Russia.
Interpol Moscow had issued an international arrest warrant for him in mid-December 2014, informing the Austrian authorities that he might be living there.
The crime ring is believed to have carried out more than 40 assassinations since 2004, most of them in the region of Moscow and in the North Caucasus, according to Die Presse (Der Standard informs that the crime group is held responsible for about two dozen murders).

According to Die Presse, the crime group consisted of 46 members, 15 of whom are already serving long prison sentences, according to local police.

Austrian police detain Russian suspect in multiple killings

MOSCOW, January 19 /TASS/. Aslan Gagiyev, a native of North Ossetia who has been detained in Austria, used to head an organized crime group, which is believed to stand behind the murders of Vladikavkaz Mayor Vitaly Karayev and North Ossetian Vice-Premier Kazbek Pagiyev, Vladimir Markin, a spokesperson for the Russian Investigative Committee, told TASS on Monday.
Earlier on Monday, the Austrian police reported the detention in Vienna of a native of North Ossetia whom Russia accuses of committing six murders in its territory.
“On January 17, the competent bodies of the Austrian Republic detained Aslan Gagiyev, the head of an organized crime group who was on the international wanted list,” Markin said.
“A criminal organization set up and headed by Aslan Gagiyev began its activities in 2004. It had more than 46 members who committed more than 40 murders and made encroachments and homicide attempts on law enforcers in the territories of Moscow, the Moscow region and the Republic of North Ossetia-Alaniya,” Markin stressed.

Could the Russian Mob Take Advantage of the Eurasian Economic Union?
The new bloc could allow more than just the free flow of goods, capital and labor.
By Jan Dulac
On the eve of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) summit, which took place on December 23in Moscow, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko lashed out at Russia’s policy, calling it “silly and stupid.” His anger was at restrictions Moscow had imposed on certain imports from his country, along with many other points of friction between the two “brotherly” nations.
A few days earlier, Lukashenko had ordered customs checkpoints to be reinstated on the Belarusian-Russian border, and announced that bilateral trade would be carried out in U.S. dollars. Chairman of the Party of Patriots of Kazakhstan, Gani Kassymov, in turn, called on the government of Kazakhstan to “postpone the introduction of the Eurasian Economic Union norms for a year, to a time Russia’s economic situation recovers. Kazakhstan cannot maintain economic fraternity with Russia following the latter’s economic collapse. The Russian crisis will deteriorate the economic situation in Kazakhstan and Belarus.” Kazakhstan is already feeling the chill: imports from Russia are now worth $17.7 billion, whilst Kazakh exports are worth $5.8 billion (following a 21 percent decline in Kazakh exports in the first half of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013).
All this seems bad enough, but most experts and observers, let alone the public, have failed to focus on one crucial point: the EEU won’t just allow the cross-border free flow of goods, capital and labor; Belarus and Kazakhstan will now also be exposed to Russian organized crime, penetrating the countries’ businesses and government structures, which have hitherto been under the tight control of authoritarian leaderships.
In Belarus, the common feeling is that the streets and avenues of Minsk are clean and well-kept, medical services are fine, and policemen are “real” – not like Russia’s bent cops. The concern about what might happen may explain why Lukashenko, when faced with Moscow’s ban on Belarusian meat and dairy products, bluntly questioned Putin’s ability to fight “crooks feathering their nests” off bilateral trade. Or, he assumed, perhaps Moscow was using a combination of politics, shady schemes and “internal forces” as foreign policy instruments.
Astana has a lot to lose as well. In spite of all the ups and downs of Kazakhstan’s transformation to a market economy, the nation has risen 47th place on the World Bank’s Competitiveness Index and 50th place in the Ease of Doing Business rating. Red tape is consistently being cut, thanks to the effective implementation of the e-government concept: Kazakhstan has climbed to 28th place in the UN e-government ranking. Most importantly, the mindset of the majority of Kazakh citizens is market-oriented. Kazakhstan’s entrepreneurs have already become accustomed to working under more or less civilized rules. President Nursultan Nazarbayev claims his nation is ranked among the world’s 20 most attractive countries for foreign investment.
Russian organized crime groups have long been known for taking advantage of economic and social crises and reforms to increase their influence and wealth. And any initiatives by Russian criminals to get in touch with their counterparts in Kazakhstan, to prepare the ground for the common market, may well find that the soil is fertile. While Kazakhstan gradually climbs the business and investment climate rankings, it is making much slower progress in the fight against corruption – according to Transparency International, the country ranked 126th in the Corruption Perceptions Index in 2014, compared to 140th in 2013.
By Putin’s definition, a “fifth column” means internal forces serving Western interests and undermining stability in Russia. However, popular opinion is that Russian oligarchs, merged with criminal groups, play the same role in advancing Moscow’s interests in its near abroad, as in Ukraine. Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman’s observed that “Putin’s Russia is an extreme version of crony capitalism, indeed, a kleptocracy in which loyalists get to skim off vast sums for their personal use.” Not surprisingly, then, many Belarusians and Kazakhs see and fear the political consequences of the EEU, especially against the backdrop of the Ukrainian crisis.
Jan Dulac is a freelance writer, based in Astana, Kazakhstan.

US Imposes Human Rights Sanctions on 4 Russians


WASHINGTON — The U.S. has imposed sanctions on four Russians under a law targeting Russian human rights violators.
The action is the latest sign of Washington's worsening relationship with Moscow. In recent months, Russia has faced hard-hitting U.S. economic sanctions over its interference in Ukraine.
The State Department said the four men included the prime minister and another senior official of Russia's Chechen Republic. They cannot enter the U.S.; any U.S. assets they have are now frozen.
The sanctions are imposed under a law named after whistle-blowing Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. He pointed to massive collusion between organized crime and a Russian government official in 2008. A year later he died of untreated pancreatitis in prison at age 37.

Thirty-four Russians are now included on the U.S. government's "Magnitsky list."

Scot Young was hung out of a window by Russian mafia because he owed them millions, friend claims

Friends reveal how Scot Young owed millions to the mafia and was in fear for his life when he fell to his death
Scot Young, the tragic tycoon, who died falling from his fourth storey London flat, owed millions of pounds to the Russian and Turkish mafia and was hung out of a hotel window by gangsters two years ago as a warning, a friend has claimed.
The body of the 52-year-old entrepreneur was discovered impaled on railings beneath his central London apartment on Monday afternoon.
Scotland Yard said it was not treating the death as suspicious, but one of his closest associates has rejected the idea that he would have taken his own life and has said he believes Mr Young was murdered over unpaid debts.
He claimed the father of two, who became embroiled in one of Britain’s costliest and most bitter divorces, was given a warning by the Russian mafia two years ago, when he was hung out of a window at the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane.
The source said he was warned in no uncertain terms that next time he would be dropped if he did not come up with some money.
The man, who now fears for his own safety, and asked not to be identified, told the Telegraph: “I do not believe for one minute Scot committed suicide, my heart tells me he was killed. There is no way he would have jumped to his death.
“I knew him very, very well, we have been friends for over 20 years. We are all very scared about what might happen. I believe Scot was murdered.”
He went on: “Two years ago he was hung off the balcony of a hotel room at the Dorchester by Russian mafia he owed money to, before he went to prison. He never went back there after that. He owed a lot of money to the wrong sort of people.”
Other friends claimed Mr Young had confided in them as recently as last month, that he feared for his safety.
One source told the Daily Mail: “He was very worried, he said he knew someone was following him. Many of Scot's friends aren't surprised that he died.”
Mr Young, who at his peak was worth an estimated £400 million, claimed to have lost his entire fortune when a vast property deal in Russia, known as Project Moscow, collapsed in 2006.
During his divorce battle with ex-wife Michelle, he told the court that not only had his entire fortune been wiped out, but he had also been left with debts of £30 million.
Last January Mr Young was jailed after refusing to comply with a court order demanding that he reveal the extent of his assets.
While he had been suffering from depression and had twice been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, friends claimed had found happiness in recent years with his American born girlfriend, Noelle Reno, 30.
His friend said: “He was suffering from depression but he would not have done this. He was truly in love Noelle, he had asked her to marry him and they were going to wed next year. He idolised her. She wasn't with him for the money. He would have done anything for her.”

How the Russian mob got into Missouri fish eggs

Call it criminal caviar: Undercover U.S. officials spent two years infiltrating the black market in illegal paddlefish eggs in a sleepy Missouri town.

John Sleezer

A large female paddlefish will carry upwards of nine kilograms of roe. On the black market, 100 grams sells for about $40.
Andrew Praskovsky, a 42-year-old from Colorado, made a pilgrimage to his native Russia every year. But in April 2012, his trip was cut short when U.S. federal agents descended on him at the airport to seize contraband from his luggage.
Their booty?
More than 1.8 kilograms of illegally extracted paddlefish caviar from a sleepy stretch of the Osage River, just downstream from the Harry S. Truman Dam, about a two-hour drive southeast of Kansas City. At the time, the caviar would have fetched more than $2,500 on the retail market, and exponentially more if intentionally mislabelled.
Praskovsky was charged with trafficking and will go on trial in March. He was one of eight men arrested during “Operation Roadhouse,” an investigation led by U.S. Fish and Wildlife that looked more like a high-stakes drug-ring bust, complete with undercover agents.
The operation was the largest of its kind in the U.S., focusing on an area in Warsaw, Mo., known as the Roadhouse. Federal and state investigators set up a fake paddlefish snagging operation meant to target those interested in illegally purchasing fish roe.
The two-year investigation culminated in the issuing of more than 100 state citations relating to illegal and unlicensed paddlefish exploitation. The town of Warsaw, population 2,127, is the self-proclaimed paddlefish capital of the world. It has become the unlikely centre of a black-market trade in paddlefish roe as Caspian sturgeon — the traditional source of high-grade caviar — becomes critically endangered following years of exploitation.
“When the Soviet Union crashed, organized crime groups took advantage of it and became very powerful in the region,” says Yuliya Zabyelina, an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. The profit funded the arms trade as well as human trafficking in the region.
This unregulated exploitation, however, has led to sturgeon’s near extinction and a moratorium being placed on fishing in the Northern Caspian, forcing these groups to set their sights elsewhere.
Of the eight men arrested, seven were from out of state, and all were originally from Eastern Europe.
American paddlefish — known by locals as spoonbill — is a freshwater species that shares common ancestry with Beluga sturgeon. It occupies slow-moving sections of the Missouri and Mississippi drainage basins.
The Osage River running through Warsaw is a hot spot for poachers because spawning fish are blocked upstream by a dam, dramatically increasing the chance of snagging an egg-bearing female.
Unlike neighbouring Oklahoma, Missouri’s regulations surrounding paddlefish snagging are also more liberal. Anglers are allowed to catch two fish per day during the season and can keep the roe for personal use.
In contrast, “in Oklahoma, folks take their fish to the (conservation) agency, and the agency will harvest the eggs, but keep them and return the prepared fish to the individual fisher and then the agency will sell the eggs,” says Larry Yamnitz of the Missouri Department of Conservation, who was a chief investigator in “Operation Roadhouse.”
Poaching paddlefish for the purpose of commercialization is illegal, as is the transport of paddlefish roe across state lines with the intention of selling it.
Paddlefish roe is attractive to traffickers because it can be processed into caviar similar in colour, size and texture to the prized caviar of the Caspian.
Though paddlefish roe does not fetch much, this changes dramatically when it is processed into caviar — 100 grams sells for about $40 on the black market and retails at more than three times that price. A large female paddlefish will carry upwards of nine kilograms of roe, with a potential value starting at $4,000. This soars when paddlefish caviar is mislabelled.
“The bulk of illegally poached caviar is being exported,” says Greg Conover, a representative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Officials believe the traffickers repackage paddlefish roe as a higher-grade, more expensive form of caviar.
“We have gathered people with empty caviar tins that are labelled as beluga Russian caviar, so you can put two and two together,” says Yamnitz.
It is sold in the U.S. or shipped to other countries, reaping huge profits that are recycled into other black-market endeavours.
“There is potentially an even greater market for caviar in Russia and Asia than in the U.S.,” says Phaedra Doukakis-Leslie, a professor from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, who has discovered intentionally mislabelled paddlefish roe through genetic sampling.
Exploiting paddlefish in this way points to organization and a “level of sophistication beyond someone going fishing in their backyard,” she says, adding that “it’s being done by people who have thought this out, who are able to get this to the market and who are able to get a good price for it.”
“Wildlife trafficking is a very lucrative business that organized crime groups are utilizing to gain funds. I definitely think any time you have high numbers of illegal trafficking in wildlife that there are ties to some type of organized crime,” says Yamnitz