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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Three Slain in Shooting at City Cafe

A manager of the Cafe Aist in central Moscow and two kiosk vendors were killed when two gunmen pulled up to the restaurant and opened fire in the city's third gangland-style slaying this week, police and an eyewitness said Wednesday.


Police called to the scene found and detained the two assailants and a third armed accomplice who waited nearby. The suspects, whose names have not been released, are Russians from outside of Moscow, the police said.


The incident occurred at around 9: 15 Tuesday evening, when the gunmen drove up to within 200 meters of the cafe on Malaya Bronnaya near Patriarch's Pond. One of the assailants, firing a Kalashnikov submachine gun, shot Rafik Dzhararov, who died on the spot, the police said. Dzhararov, 42, from Baku, Azerbaijan, was the cafe's assistant director.


Within seconds, the second gunman aimed a pistol at a kiosk stocked with vodka and beer directly across the street and started firing, according to a survivor of the attack.


Two vendors, Ira Kiselyova, 28, and Alexander Ucherov, about 40, died within minutes of the attack, while the security guard who sat between them escaped unharmed.


"No one said anything; they started firing without warning", said the survivor, who was still visibly shaken Wednesday and who asked not to be named. "The only thing we could do was drop to the ground at once, but then they fired toward the ground where we lay".


The assailants also threw a grenade at the cafe, which had about 10 or 15 customers at the time, but it did not explode because the pin was improperly removed, the police said.


Police have not named a motive in the crime, which follows a shootout Monday at a Moscow auto dealership in which four men died and another gunfight, also Monday, on Ploshchad Taganskaya.


Employees of Cafe Aist declined to discuss the incident Wednesday, although one woman's loud sobbing inside was audible on the street in front.


The cafe, which serves simple Russian food, has been described as an underworld hangout. One customer said she saw a fellow diner remove his brass knuckles before beginning to eat. According to Itar-Tass, a gang leader was murdered there several years ago.


Employees of the Izabel Trading Company, a small firm that owns the kiosk across from Cafe Aist, said that the two vendors were probably killed because they had witnessed a gang assassination.


"They threw a grenade at the cafe; that already says something", said Tamara Leonova, a company cashier. "They wanted to take out the witnesses".


In an incident police call unrelated, another vendor in the same kiosk was shot and killed on July 11. Vladimir Borskov, head of the local 83rd police precinct, said that a man shot a dog and that the bullet ricocheted and killed the saleswoman, identified by her employer as Lena Klimenko. Police have detained a suspect in that shooting as well.


The shooting incidents at Cafe Aist, the Alliance car dealership on Leninsky Prospekt and on Ploshchad Taganskaya have raised concern that organized crime here has entered a new violent phase that could bring Moscow a wave a killings similar to the lawlessness that ruled Chicago in the 1930s.


Viktor Yerin, Russia's interior minister, on Tuesday described the Leninsky and Taganskaya incidents as "typical settlements of accounts between crime groups". He said that 3, 000 gangs in Russia, allied into 150 larger groupings, were operating in Russia. Police say that many of the gang attacks are motivated by turf battles and efforts to force merchants to pay protection money. All but a few kiosks pay racketeers "protection money" of up to a third of their total intake, according to Vitaly Usov, central Moscow's assistant prefect, who oversees kiosks.


Organized crime groups in the last three months alone have killed 50 people in Moscow to "demonstrate" their abilities to businesses and banks, Security Ministry officials said.