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Top Russian mobster dead at 69: prosecutors

One of Russia's most notorious mafia kingpins, Vyacheslav Ivankov, known by his nickname of "Yaponchik," or Little Japanese, died in Moscow Friday after suffering serious injuries in an assassination attempt in July.

world Updated: Oct 09, 2009 21:45 IST

One of Russia's most notorious mafia kingpins, Vyacheslav Ivankov, known by his nickname of "Yaponchik," or Little Japanese, died in Moscow Friday after suffering serious injuries in an assassination attempt in July.

"Investigators have received official confirmation from a Moscow clinic of the death of Vyacheslav Ivankov," the Investigative Committee of the General Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

Ivankov was shot in the stomach as he left a glitzy Thai restaurant in Moscow on July 28. The shot was fired by a sniper who hid 70 meters away in a truck, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into attempted murder and illegal use of arms, but have yet to charge any suspects.

Following the shooting, Ivankov underwent several abdominal operations but doctors were unable to save him, Russian agencies reported, citing medical officials. Prosecutors said a post-mortem would determine the cause of death.

Ivankov, 69, was nicknamed "Little Japanese" because of his short stature, distinctively slanted eyes and expertise in the Japanese martial art of ju-jitsu.

He began a career of racketeering, robbery, arms smuggling and drug trafficking in the Soviet Union in the late 1960s and served long jail terms before his release in 1991.

He fled Russia in 1992 and began a reign of terror over the Russian community of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, New York. After serving a nine-year sentence in a US prison, Ivankov was released in 2004 and deported to Russia.

Hev was jailed on his return, but was released in 2005 after being controversially cleared by a jury of killing two Turks in a Moscow restaurant in 1992.