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The recent spate of mysterious deaths of Russian oligarchs

The deaths of two Russian oligarchs and their families by suspected murder-suicides have renewed suspicions of a string of similar incidents since Vladimir Putin gave the order to invade Ukraine.

Sergey Protosenya, the former top executive of Russian energy giant Novatek, and Vladislav Avaev, ex-vice president of Gazprombank, were found dead along with their wives and daughters in Spain and Moscow respectively.

But while police in both countries said the oligarchs appeared to have committed suicide after killing their families, the cases have been widely investigated. Protosenya and Avaev are “the latest in a string of high-profile Russians who have died under mysterious circumstances in recent months,” he said wealthwhich noted that the Russian president “has long been known to take extreme measures to silence his opponents“.

In all, at least six high-profile Russian oligarchs have died in unusual or unexplained circumstances since early 2022. So what’s behind what ABC Correspondent Ali Velshi called ‘curious’ case of dead Russian oligarch?

Known “too much”?

While the deaths of Protosenya and Avaev “are considered murder-suicide cases by the police,” he said news week“the evidence supporting these theories is confounded by the fact that the events took place so close together”.

Both men were found dead within 48 hours late last week.

The “multi-millionaire and former gas manager” Protosenya was discovered “hanging in the garden of his luxurious Spanish holiday home”. Daily Mail reported. The bodies of his wife and 18-year-old daughter were found “chopped to death with an ax inside.”

Spanish authorities have suggested that he “executed the couple before killing himself in an uncharacteristic fit of rage”. But police also said he “did not leave a suicide note and no fingerprints were found on the weapons – an ax and a knife – used to kill the two women” and “there were no bloodstains on his body”.

His son Fedor told the newspaper that “my father is not a murderer”. The 22-year-old student said: “He loved my mother and especially Maria, my sister. She was his princess. He could never harm them. I don’t know what happened that night, but I know my father didn’t hurt her.”

However, no evidence was presented to support the claim that the family was murdered.

Avaev who worked there Putin’s presidency before joining private bank Gazprombank, was found dead in his “multi-million apartment” in Moscow a day earlier, Newsweek said. A relative discovered the bodies after being “unable to contact the family” for several days.

His “apartment was locked from the inside and a pistol was found in Avaev’s hands, prompting investigators to pursue the theory” that he “shot his wife and 13-year-old daughter before killing himself,” according to the report Magazine.

Russian state news agency Tass reported that a police source confirmed that “Avaev killed his wife and daughter and committed suicide.”

But this version of events was questioned by Igor Volobuev, another former vice president of Gazprombank. Volobuyev told the Russian independent newspaper The Insider that Avaev’s death “may have been staged because he may have known too much”.

Volobuev – who fled Russia in early March and joined the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Force – added that he also does not believe that Protosenya’s death was a suicide.

Similar deaths

Protosenya and Avaev’s alleged murder-suicides come shortly after the deaths of Russian tycoons Vasily Melnikov, Mikhail Watford and Alexander Tyulyakov. All five died after the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.

Melnikov, the founder of the medical company MedStom, also died in a suspected murder suicide. He was found “in his luxury apartment in Nizhny Novgorod,” Russia’s sixth-largest city, on March 23 along with the bodies of his wife and two young sons, Newsweek reported.

Corresponding Kommersanta newspaper by Putin’s allies Alisher Usmanov, investigators believe Melnikov killed his 41-year-old wife and their children, ages ten and four, before killing himself. All died from stab wounds, and knives were found at the scene.

Melnikov’s company was “on the verge of collapse” as a result. sanctions against Russia after the invasion, Ukrainian news site Glavred reported.

The day before the bodies were discovered, an employee is said to have “received an unexpected message” from Melnikov “requesting that he be buried where his mother was buried.”

“The key is under the carpet, do not break the door,” the message said, according to the website.

Ukrainian-born oligarch Watford, who made his fortune in oil and gas after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was found dead in “unexplained circumstances” at his home in Surrey on March 3. The guard reported.

Police are treating the businessman’s death as “unexplained” but not “suspicious,” the newspaper continued. There is “no indication” that Watford is “the target of British-backed sanctions due to proximity to Putin or a Russian operation”.

Independent Russian newspaper just three days after Watford was found dead Novaya Gazeta reported that Tyulyakov, a former executive of the state energy company Gazprom, had been found hanged in St. Petersburg. Police told the newspaper that he left a suicide note.

His death came weeks after that of Gazprom executive Leonid Shulman, whose body was found next to a suicide note in late January, according to the newspaper.

Police investigation

According to Novaya Gazeta, the deaths of Tyulyakov and Shulman are also being investigated by Gazprom and the Russian police. The paper described how “security units” from the energy company investigated the crime scene.

The deaths of all six Russian oligarchs could be “completely unrelated cases” in which “men killed their families and then killed themselves,” NBC’s Velshi said. But “what are the odds” that Russian oligarchs with ties to the Kremlin and the oil industry “will decide to kill themselves” in such a short space of time?

2017, United States today published a report on the deaths or disappearances of 38 Russian oligarchs over a three-year period.

The list included “seven diplomats”, “six employees of Kremlin officials who had fallen out” and “13 military or political leaders” who were involved in the long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Twelve were allegedly “shot, stabbed or beaten to death”, “six were blown up” and “ten died allegedly of natural causes”.

“One died from mysterious head injuries, one reportedly slipped and hit his head in a public bath, one was hung up in his prison cell and one died after drinking coffee,” the news site added. “The cause of six deaths has been reported as unknown.”

As Velshi said on NBC, it’s possible the deaths since the invasion began were “isolated” and “unconnected” cases of homicide, suicide, and unexplained causes.

But “in all cases, there is widespread suspicion that the deaths may have been staged as suicides,” Grzegorz Kuczyński, director of the Warsaw Institute’s Eurasia program, told Fortune. The question that arises is, “Who did this and why”?

https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/russia/956563/mysterious-russian-oligarch-deaths-ukraine-war The recent spate of mysterious deaths of Russian oligarchs

Fry Electronics Team

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