the mysterious deaths of 14 Russian oligarchs


Officially on a tourist trip, the multimillionaire Pavel Antov, big boss of the Russian agri-food industry, was found dead on Sunday at the foot of his hotel in India. A few days earlier, his friend Vladimir Bydanov, who was traveling with him, also died. These names add to a long list of oligarchs who have mysteriously died in recent months.

Should we see the shadow of the Kremlin Falls, poisonings, suicides… since the start of the war in Ukraine, there has been a series of suspicious deaths worthy of a detective novel plot. In all, fourteen Russian oligarchs died in questionable circumstances. The latest is multimillionaire Pavel Antov, who died after falling from a terrace in a hotel in Rayagada, in the Indian province of Odisha. The body of the 65-year-old man, deputy of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, was discovered on December 25, in a pool of blood, in front of the hotel where he spent his vacation with three other Russians. He apparently fell to his death from the terrace of the establishment.

A message on WhatsApp in question?

Before entering politics, Pavel Antov founded the agribusiness Vladimirski Standart and found himself, in 2019, at the top of the ranking of the richest politicians in Russia by the Russian edition of Forbes magazine. In June, Russian media published a WhatsApp message attributed to Pavel Antov stating that Russian bombings of Ukraine were acts of “terrorism”. He then denied having written this message, saying that he supported “the special military operation”, the official formula of the authorities to designate the war waged by Russia against Ukraine.

According to the Indian police, Pavel Antov “was probably disturbed by the death of his friend and went to the terrace of the hotel from where he probably fell to his death”. Indeed, two days earlier, another member of the group of Russian tourists, Vladimir Bidenov, was found unconscious, in a room of the same hotel, surrounded by bottles of alcohol, an unconscious victim of a heart attack. He could not be revived. The police viewed all the images from the surveillance cameras, questioned the hotel staff while awaiting the detailed report of the autopsies. She has not discovered, so far, any clues suggesting the hypothesis of a homicide. The heart attack that caused Vladimir Bidenov’s death was likely caused by alcohol abuse and a possible drug overdose, regional police chief Rajesh Pandit said. These two deaths are added to the list of twelve other Russian oligarchs who died in the same ambiguous circumstances.

Falling down stairs, on a construction site or overboard

On December 9, 50-year-old Russian real estate magnate Dmitry Zelenov died in mysterious circumstances while visiting friends in Antibes, southern France. Feeling unwell after dinner, the oligarch would then have fallen down the stairs and passed over a balustrade. The man reportedly died after being taken to hospital from head trauma. The Grasse prosecutor’s office confirms that he died on December 10 at the Pasteur hospital in Nice. According to the prosecutor, an investigation, appointed at the Antibes police station, is open to find the causes of death.

Two months earlier, on September 21, Anatoly Gerashchenko, 72, a leading Russian expert and scientist in the field of aviation, also suffered a bad fall. This time it is a badly sealed railing, during a site visit. As for Ivan Pechorin, 39, director of the Russian company for the development of the Far East and the Arctic, he would have fallen overboard during a sailboat trip on September 10. His body was found in the Sea of ​​Japan, east of Russia. Russian media claim he was drunk when he fell in the water.

Family dramas, hangings, poisoning

The causes of the death of Russian businessman Ravil Maganov, which occurred on September 1, are also enigmatic. Officially, he is said to have died of a “serious illness” but the Russian news agencies Tass and Interax claim that he committed suicide by defending himself from the sixth floor of the hospital where he was being treated.

Stranger still, Alexander Subbotin, 49, former senior official of the Russian oil group Lukoil, would have been fatally poisoned by toad venom during a session sprinkled with shamanism.

Yuri Voronov, 61, Russian director of a partner company of the Gazprom group, was found dead on July 4 at the bottom of the swimming pool of his residence in Saint Petersburg, a bullet in the head. On April 19, Sergey Protoseny, 53, was discovered hanging from a tree in the garden of his vacation villa in Lloret de Mar, Spain, where he was with his wife and 18-year-old daughter. Both women were found stabbed to death. Investigators suspect the Russian of having killed his wife and daughter before committing suicide. The Spanish media insist on the thesis of a triple assassination disguised as a family drama.

Same scenario for Vladislav Avaev, former vice-president of Gazprombank. Officially, the 51-year-old man killed himself after killing his family in his Moscow apartment on April 18, 2022. Businessman Vasily Melnikov also allegedly killed his wife and two children aged 4 and 10 after committing suicide in his apartment in Nizhny Novgorod, western Russia. Mikhail Watford, a billionaire who made his fortune in oil and gas, was found hanged in his garage on February 28, in the western suburbs of London. Alexander Tyulyakov, financial director of Gazprom, 61, was also found hanged in his garage, near Saint Petersburg, on February 25, the day after the start of the war.

The Kremlin but not only…

Finally, the body of Leonid Shulman, 60, director general of Gazprom, was discovered with a suicide note, in the bathroom of his cottage in the Saint Petersburg region, on January 30, 2022, a little less a month before the invasion of Ukraine commanded by Vladimir Putin.

At a time when Russia is bogged down in the conflict in Ukraine and a certain opposition begins to emerge in the country, this series of “accidental deaths” and “suicides” shakes. “Russia is currently going through a period of turmoil with the war, said in an interview with RFI Julien Vercueil, professor of economics at the National Institute of Oriental Languages ​​and Civilizations (Inalco) and member of the Europes-Eurasia research center. There are therefore a number of settling of scores to obtain regional power and economic struggles that are raging. Certain settling of accounts can certainly be ordered by the Kremlin, but not all. Some of them can also be attributed to people other than Vladimir Putin.

Europe 1

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