A list of oligarchs and Putin critics found dead since the war in Ukraine
After the chairman of the board of Russia’s largest private oil company died in what Russian news agencies said was an accidental fall from a hospital window, questions have again been raised about whether suspicious deaths among Russian oligarchs and critics of President Vladimir Putin have become all too common. be completely a coincidence.
Initially, a statement from his company Lukoil said Ravil Maganov “died after a serious illness” on Thursday but did not give further details.
Russian reports later said his body was found on the grounds of Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital, where Russia’s political and business elite are often treated.
Putin visited the same hospital on Friday to lay flowers next to the coffin of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who died while receiving treatment on Tuesday.
Maganov appears to have fallen from a sixth-floor window, according to reports. Some sources claimed he tripped and fell while smoking, saying a pack of cigarettes was found near the window. The RBK news site also said police were investigating the possibility of a suicide.
Lukoil was one of the few Russian companies to publicly call for an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling in March for an “immediate cessation of armed conflict”.
Incidentally, Maganov was not the first Lukoil official to die under suspicious circumstances since the Kremlin’s full-scale aggression against its western neighbor began in late February.
A former top manager Alexandre Subbotin was found dead in the basement of a Moscow suburban residence in May.
According to Russian reports, the house belonged to a so-called healer, Shaman Magua, who performed purification rites.
Magua testified that Subbotin came to his house under the influence of alcohol and drugs and demanded that the healer, whose real name is Aleksei Pindurin, perform a healing ritual for the hangover symptoms.
Investigators said Subbotin’s preliminary cause of death was heart failure.
Yet it was Ravil Maganov’s disappearance that captured the attention of the press, having been the latest in a series of accidental self-defenestrations and other suspicious deaths by those enjoying good relations with Putin or were a thorn in his side – or both.
Anti-War Oligarchs Die Under Strange Circumstances
At least six other Russian oligarchs have died in bizarre circumstances almost since the conflict in Ukraine began. All had in common close ties to the Kremlin, immense wealth, a connection to Russian gas and an anti-war stance towards Ukraine.
This has raised the suspicions of international investigators, who are beginning to believe that these deaths could, in fact, be staged suicides or assassinations because of their position on the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine or of their links with the corruption of the Russian gas company Gazprom.
It all started in St. Petersburg as the war approached.
Just a month before the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, a senior executive of the gas company Gazprom was found dead in his chalet near Saint Petersburg.
Leonid Shulman60, was found in the bathroom of the home with slashed wrists, local news reported, citing a source.
Police authorities said a suicide note was found next to his body, in which he recounted his suffering after a leg injury – which Gazprom said prompted him to take leave.
The version was called into question after the Warsaw Institute think tank said that Shulman, who was head of Gazprom Invest’s transport department, was involved in a possible corruption case at the Russian gas giant .
In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Alexander Tyuliakov, 65, a senior corporate security officer at Gazproms, died at his home in the same village as Shulman. According to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, his body was found hanging in the garage.
The same newspaper quoted an unnamed police source as saying Gazprom’s own security unit arrived at the scene of the suicide at the same time as the police and were also investigating the death.
One of the two deaths that occurred abroad was that of Mikhail Watford, who lived with his family in the UK. On February 28, the 66-year-old Ukrainian-born oil and gas tycoon, who has also built a property empire in London, was found dead at his home in Surrey.
Watford’s cause of death was determined to be death by hanging, but his wife and children, who were at home at the time, were unharmed. British authorities were treating Watford’s death as unexplained, but not suspicious.
It later emerged that Watford, commonly known as Misha, changed his surname from Tolstosheya after moving to the UK in early 2000.
Murder-suicides suddenly escalate among Putin-friendly oligarchs?
In March, the bodies of the Russian billionaire Vasily Melnikov and his family were found in his luxury apartment in Nizhny Novgorod, a city in western Russia.
Melnikov had made his fortune working for one of the medical companies affected by Western sanctions.
According to Russian newspaper Kommersant, Melnikov, along with his 41-year-old wife and two young children, aged 10 and 4 respectively, died of stab wounds. The murder weapon was found at the crime scene.
The newspaper reported that the oligarch killed his family before committing suicide, although neighbors and other relatives disagreed with the official version.
Other media claimed that Melnikov’s company, which imports medical equipment to Russia, was on the verge of bankruptcy due to Western sanctions imposed in retaliation for the war in Ukraine.
The latest case took place in Spain, more precisely in Lloret de Mar, where the Russian oligarch Sergei Protosenia55, was found dead along with two other family members on April 19.
The former boss of the gas giant Novatek, endowed with a personal fortune of 400 million euros, was found hanged, as well as those of his wife and daughter, stabbed to death in the family villa.
What was initially classified by police as a double homicide followed by Protosenya’s suicide was later categorically denied by his son.
Several family friends have also come out in public to claim that Protosenya is, in fact, the third victim of a “staged suicide” and that the oligarch was allegedly incapable of murdering his family.
Catalan police are still actively investigating the case.
Just a day before the death of Protosenya and his family, the body of the Russian oligarch Vladislav Avaev was found in his Moscow apartment, along with the bodies of his wife and 13-year-old daughter. It was his daughter Anastasia, 26, who discovered the crime scene.
Russia’s state-run TASS news agency quoted a source close to law enforcement as saying preliminary evidence indicated that Avayev – a former Putin adviser and former Gazprombank vice president – killed his wife and daughter, then had committed suicide.
A pistol was found in the hand of the oligarch, and the apartment was sealed from the inside.
Gazprombank is the third largest bank in Russia and is associated with Gazprom, the world’s largest listed natural gas company.
The most suspicious self-defenestrations
Maganov’s death on Thursday also follows the pattern of prominent Russians falling out of windows to their deaths.
In October 2021, a Russian diplomat was found dead after falling from a window of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Der Spiegel reported.
The unidentified man was a second secretary at the embassy, but German intelligence sources told the newspaper they suspected him of being a Russian FSB undercover agent.
Investigative newspaper Bellingcat said it used open source data to identify the man as Kirill Zhalothe son of General Alexey Zhalo, deputy director of the FSB’s second service, responsible for dealing with internal political threats in the Kremlin.
In December of the same year, the founder of the nationalist blog Sputnik and Pogrom Egor Prosvirnin died after falling from a window of an apartment building in Moscow.
Prosvirnin’s naked body was found next to a knife and a gas canister after screams and screams were heard from his apartment, local media reported.
Prosvirnin, a right-wing activist, initially supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 but later became a vocal critic of Putin, predicting civil war in Russia and the collapse of the Russian Federation.
And on August 14, Dan RapoportLatvian-American investment banker and outspoken critic of Putin who had just left Ukraine after the Russian invasion, was found dead outside a luxury building in Washington DC.
Police said they are not treating Rapoport’s death as suspicious, Washington-based Politico reported, but the case remains under investigation.
Rapoport became wealthy in Moscow before falling out of favor with the Kremlin, mainly due to his support for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, according to reports.
In 2017, then commercial partner of Rapoport, Sergei Tkachenkoalso fell to death from his Moscow apartment.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, at least four healthcare workers fell through windows in Russia, and only one survived despite serious injuries.
At least three incidents of doctors defenestrating themselves from hospital windows occurred over a two-week period between April and May 2020, with media claiming they protested working conditions during the worst wave of infections in the country before the incidents.
In December 2020, a top Russian scientist developing a new COVID-19 vaccine, Alexander Kaganskywas found dead after falling from his high-rise apartment in St. Petersburg.
According to Russian media, police claimed Kagansky stabbed himself and then jumped to his death.