In the last two months several Russian oligarchs and senior managers of his companies have died in strange circumstances that point to suicide but also raised suspicions of possible assassinations
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the West has been extending sanctions to the country presided over by Vladimir Putin, as well as to personalities of the country such as the president himself or his close circle of ministers and loyalists. But these measures have also affected important oligarchs of Russian nationality, whether they live in the country or not, who have seen their assets seized and confiscated. Abramovich (Chelsea), Fridman (DIA) or Usmanov (mining sector) have been among those affected. But also others who, in these two months, have died “in strange circumstances” which point to suicide but which also raised suspicions of possible assassinations. In common, they had in common being against the war in Ukraine.
On February 25, one day after the invasion of Ukraine began. As Gazeta explained, Gazprom’s deputy general director for corporate security, Alexander Tyulyakov, was found dead in a country house near St. Petersburg.
Police found a note next to his body explaining that he had decided to commit suicide. But the motives were unclear. Aged 61, Tyulyakov had worked for Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, for about ten years.
On the other hand, RBC reported that the first case took place in January. Gazprom senior manager Leonid Shulman, 60, was found dead in the bathroom of a country house in the Leningrad region. He was also carrying a suicide note. The media explained that he was on sick leave when he allegedly took his own life.
In early March, the body of a Russian oligarch with Ukrainian roots, Mikhail Watford, was found. The 66-year-old was found hanged in the garage of the luxurious Wentworth Estate in Surrey, England. According to TN, the war in Ukraine could have been the motive, as he did not support the cause. Watford lived in the house with his wife, an Estonian national, and their three children.
On March 24, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported the death of billionaire Vasily Melnikov, who is said to have worked for the medical firm MedStorm. The oligarch’s body was found in his luxury apartment in Nizhny Novgorod, the country’s sixth largest city. His wife, 41, and his two children, aged four and ten, were also found dead. All had stab wounds and the knives used for the murders were found at the crime scene.
The children were found in their bedroom, the wife in her bedroom and the man in the bathroom, with a severed artery. Apparently, the man killed his family before committing suicide, although the media outlet Glavred explains that the cause of the event could have been a possible confrontation with a former business partner. For its part, Nexta spoke of the possibility of a hitman who would have killed the four members of the family, as they did not support the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The body of Sergey Protosenya, a former top executive of Russian energy giant Novatek, Russia’s second largest company involved in natural gas production, was found along with those of his wife and daughter on Tuesday in a rented villa in Spain. The 55-year-old millionaire was found hanged in the garden of the building, located in Lloret del Mar, on Spain’s Costa Brava.
His wife and daughter were found in their beds with stab wounds on their bodies, while an axe and a knife were found next to his body. The family lived mainly in France, and the death of the oligarch was confirmed by Russian state media last Thursday. In this case, the strongest theory is that he murdered his wife and daughter and then committed suicide.
Just a day earlier, in Moscow, Russian authorities announced the discovery of the body of former Gazprombank vice-president Vladislav Avaev, together with that of his wife and daughter. The bodies were discovered by a relative after he had been unable to contact them for several days.
The apartment of the former member of the third largest bank by assets in Russia was locked from the inside and a pistol was found in Avaev’s hands, leading to speculation that he may have shot his wife and 13-year-old daughter before committing suicide.