I've been all caught up in the Presidential Election thing; but I just saw that a different, in many ways more complicated, election is coming up. This one will determine who leads the Russian criminal underworld.

Last year, in June, the powerful Vor v Zakone Zakhariy Kalashov was arrested at his mansion outside Moscow, along with a number of his underlings

The arrest was in connection to a bloody incident earlier, in downtown Moscow, which began when Shakro's men were attempting to extort money from the owner of a high-end restaurant, possibly a debt she owed their organization; she, as often happens in Russia, called her own mob friends for help, rather than police; the dispute ended in a wild shootout in the parking lot outside the restaurant, in which two men were killed, and others wounded

The authorities, naturally, did not appreciate this kind of mayhem in the center of the bloody capital...

Aside from Shakro himself, a number of his high-ranking contacts in law enforcement also went down as a result:
FSB Arrest Deputy Head of Moscow's Investigative Committee

One guy, now working for Rosneft, was taken in just couple days ago: Rosneft Lawyer Arrested Over Bribe From Russian Mafia Boss

Shakro is on trial and is expected to go away for serious time

This has opened up a new race, to replace him as the "Vor #1", the boss of all bosses, which Shakro has been recognizes as for years now.

Shakro himself has apparently appointed a Vor named Vasily Khristoforov, a Slavic gangster who is also close with the Georgian mafia factions (as is Shakro himself) as temporary stand-in

What this means, in practice, is that Khristoforov is now, among other things, in charge of the obshyak, the "common place", some hidden safe in the old days, now, I guess, probably secret bank accounts or something, where all the subirdinate gangs, which are myriad, bring in all their ill-gotten loot. Money from robberies, burglaries and the fenced stolen property, cars, etc; drug money; all criminal money goes to the obshyak, and the head Vor is in charge of the obshyak, period. Khristoforov is suddenly a very, very rich man.

For now.

After Shakro's trial ends, and he arrives in prison, there, in prison, he and other imprisoned Vory will hold their very own election, to decide who will finally replace Shakro as the aforementioned head boss on the outside.

And Khristoforov (unlike Putin lol) has some serious opposition.

On one side, he faces Eduard and his older son Sergey Asatryan

The Asatryan crime family heads the most powerful of the Armenian mob factions. Sergey is currently free; while his father is in prison; and it is said that he is going to try to not only defend his dad's interests on the street, but expand the family turf, and possibly set his father up into a powerful enough position to challenge Khristoforov when he also gets released in a few short months from now.

On the other side, is an ambitious Azerbaijani mobster, Nadir Salifov, aka Guli

Guli controls a vast drug empire in Moscow and has lots of allies among other Muslim factions in and from the Caucasus. He too has his eye set on the top chair.

Authorities worry about this erupting into a potential bloody three way inter-ethnic street war, with Slavic and Georgian gangs mainly backing Khristoforov; most Armenian factions supporting the Asatryans; and many Muslim factions backing Guli.

Although, this is far from all that certain.

Guli, for one, has lost a lot of respect on the streets, after an incident, not long ago, where he was attacked, during a planned meeting, on neutral ground, in Turkey, with Khristoforov's people. The negotiations did not go well.

In fact, Khristoforov's guys pulled guns, and all hell broke loose, bullets started flying. Guli's Turkish bodyguard (a local cop, actually, moonlighting off duty) was shot a killed, and he himself than actually dropped his own pistol and fled, run off, jumped into a passing taxes, reportedly crying and literally peeing his pants

This kind of behavior is considered unworthy of any member of the Russian mob, especially a Vor, a title Guli had held until then. Var can't be a pussy

Recently, a group of highest ranked Vory apparently convened at a prison camp in Siberia and stripped his title from him, though Guli has publicly challenged this ruling and refused to recognize its legitimacy (and he better pray he does not end up behind bars himself, after this, the punishment for defying a ruling by a Vory Council like this is often death...)

This may cost him at least some of his allies.

Khristoforov's biggest ally, meanwhile, is Yuri Pichugin, aka Pichuga

a lower ranked Vor, who has previously often accompanied Khristoforov everywhere and acted as his head bodyguard, and now represents his interests inside the prison system.

But, all three men have powerful friends on the inside. That's another thing authorities worry about: violence not only in the streets, but in the prisons too...

Previously, in some such re-divisions of territory and power, while hundreds of men sometimes died on the streets; thousands more of their pawn soldiers were killed in the prison camps...

Hopefully, they can keep things under control...