Police officers and investigators crowd at the site of a killing of Aslan Usoyan outside the Karetny Dvor restaurant in central Moscow, on January 16, 2013.

One of Russia's most notorious crime bosses, Aslan Usoyan, was shot dead by a sniper on Wednesday in broad daylight in central Moscow. 

Usoyan, 75, who survived two previous assassination attempts, was thought to be the highest-ranking mafia boss in Russia, the Financial Times wrote.

Usoyan — also known as "Grandpa Hassan" — was leaving Karetny Dvor restaurant about a mile from the Kremlin, when he was hit by a single shot, the Agence France Press reported.

A suppressed Spetsnaz rifle was used, according to Macedonia's MINA news agency.

Usoyan died on the way to hospital, having reportedly been rushed there by his bodyguards.

AFP cited fears that Usoyan's murder would unleash a turf war in the criminal worlds of Russia and former Soviet republics.

Usoyan had recently become a target in a war between criminal clans.

The 2010 and 2013 assassination attempts — also by a sniper — "are connected and have apparently been prepared by the same people," a police source reportedly told Interfax.

The Guardian cited Interfax as quoting a source:

"The assassination carried out on Wednesday was probably the result of Aslan Usoyan's conflict with 'thieves in law' clans headed by immigrants from Georgia."  

'Thieves in law' is Russian mafia terminology, equivalent to the Italian mafia "godfather."

According to The Guardian, a bloody Russian mafia war has claimed many of Usoyan's lieutenants working in Sochi.

The resort is awash with construction money as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in 2014.

Vyacheslav Ivankov, better known as "Yaponchik" (Little Japanese) — whom the FBI suspected of being a leading Russian crime boss in the US following the fall of the Soviet Union — was killed by a sniper rifle in Moscow in 2009.

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