At least nine important entrepreneurs russians have died by suicide or in as-yet-unexplained accidents since late January, with six of them associated with Russia’s two largest energy companies.
Russian businessman Ivan Pechorin, the top manager of the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, was found dead in Vladivostok on 10 September, the latest in a series of mysterious deaths among Russian executives.
Regional media reports that Pechorin was found drowned in a possible boating accident, but the death is still regarded as suspicious.
Four of those six entrepreneurs were linked to Russian state energy giant Gazprom or one of its subsidiaries, while the other two were linked to Lukoil, Russia’s largest private oil and gas company.
Earlier this year, the company took the unusual public stance of speaking out against Russia’s war in Ukraine, asking for sympathy for the victims and for an end to the conflict.
Lukoil chairman Ravil Maganov died in late August after falling out of a Moscow hospital window, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
Lukoil confirmed the death on Thursday (1st) in a statement posted on its website.
Maganov “passed away after a serious illness,” Lukoil said, not to mention a fall. “Maganov has contributed immensely to the development not only of the company, but of the entire Russian oil and gas sector.”
Another top Lukoil manager, Alexander Subbotin, was found dead near Moscow in May after visiting a shaman, TASS reported.
Russia’s State News Agency quoted an official as saying that authorities had been called in to help an unconscious man suffering from heart failure. TASS reported that the police opened a criminal investigation into the case.
Relationship with Gazprom
In the first of the reported deaths this year, a top Gazprom executive was found dead in his country house in the village of Leninsky, near Leningrad, on January 30, 2022, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti.
The RIA reported that a suicide note was found at the scene and that police were investigating the death as a suicide. Russian national broadcaster RenTv identified the man as Leonid Shulman, head of transport at Gazprom Invest.
Just a month after that, another top Gazprom executive was found dead in the same village. Alexander Tyulakov was found dead in his garage on February 25, according to Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper.
Novaya Gazeta reported that he committed suicide.
The links of CNN to Gazprom for comment on the case were not returned.
Two more Russian businessmen linked to Gazprom died in apparent incidents of murder and suicide in April.
One of them, Vladislav Avayev, former vice president of Gazprombank, was found dead with his wife and daughter in their Moscow apartment on April 18, according to TASS.
Citing a law enforcement source, TASS claimed that authorities were investigating the Avayevs’ deaths as murder-suicide.
Yulia Ivanova, a representative of the Moscow Investigation Committee, was quoted by Tass as saying that a relative discovered the Avayevs’ bodies after being told by the family’s driver and nanny that they could not contact them by phone or enter the apartment as the door was closed from the inside.
Igor Volobuev, a former vice president of Gazprombank who recently left Russia for Ukraine, told CNN who doesn’t believe Avayev killed himself.
“His job was to deal with private banking, that means dealing with VIP clients. He was in charge of very large amounts of money. So he killed himself? I think not. I think he knew something and that he posed some kind of risk,” Volobuev told CNN in April.
The Russian Investigative Committee did not respond to the request of the CNN to comment on this case.
Just a day later, on April 19, Sergey Protosenya, a former executive at gas producer Novatek, which is partially owned by Gazprom, was found dead at his home in Lloret de Mar, a Mediterranean resort near Barcelona.
The bodies of his wife and daughter, showing signs of violence, were found inside the family’s luxury home, an official source close to the investigation told AFP. CNN last week, while Protosenya’s body was found in the garden outside, according to the newspaper. source.
Son questions initial findings
Catalan police in the province of Girona, where the town of Lloret de Mar is located, told CNN who concluded its investigation into the case and sent the findings to a court.
The police force said its conclusion was that the deaths were a double murder and subsequent suicide.
Speaking to the Daily Mail in April, Protosenya’s son questioned this version of events, suggesting his father was murdered.
“The Catalan police took statements from the son. Other hypotheses were ruled out. A triple homicide was also ruled out,” the police press officer told CNN in season.
“That this was the work of the Russian Mafia? Well, no,” the official added.
Novatek, Protosenya’s former employer, said he was “a wonderful person and a wonderful family man.”
“Unfortunately, there has been speculation on this topic in the media, but we are convinced that these speculations are unrelated to reality,” the company said in a statement.
Mikhail Watford, a Ukrainian-born Russian oil and gas billionaire, was found dead at his home in Surrey, England, on February 28.
Surrey Police told the CNN who did not believe there were any suspicious circumstances.
Another Russian businessman, Vasily Melnikov, was found dead alongside his family in Nizhny Novgorod in late March, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant.
Melnikov owned MedStom, a medical supply company. According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, a 43-year-old man, his wife, 41, and two children aged four and 10 were found stabbed to death on March 23.
The committee did not name Melnikov, but the ages of the dead and the location of the incident match the Kommersant report.
The regional branch of the investigative committee did not update the status of its investigation and did not return the request for comment from the CNN . At the time of the incident in March, he said that “there were no signs of unauthorized entry into the apartment” and that “knives were found and seized”.
“[Os investigadores] are considering various versions of what happened, including the murder of the children and wife by the head of the family, followed by self-inflicted death,” the committee said.
If you need help or information, look for the Life Appreciation Center (CVV), which provides emotional support and suicide prevention. Call 188 (toll free) or go to www.cvv.org.br.
Source: CNN Brasil