They are coming for you
When you fail in an autocratic organization, those you thought were loyal are nothing more than your Disciples, and behave accordingly. They have watched you kill, maim, destroy, embarrass, and usurp and now, when you are at your weakest, they come for you. This is the natural order of what you built as one who uses violence can expect a violent response (поднявший меч от меча и погибнет) is a Chef to begin with.
We learn from you Heir Putler:
Another mysterious death among Russian top executives last week drew further attention to the ever-increasing number of suspicious demises among the oligarchs and critics of President Vladimir Putin, raising questions on whether they have become all too common to be completely coincidental.
Ivan Pechorin, a top manager at the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, was found dead in Vladivostok after allegedly falling off his luxury yacht and drowning near Cape Ignatyev in the Sea of Japan two days before, according to the local administration.
“On September 12, 2022, it became known about the tragic death of our colleague, Ivan Pechorin, Managing Director for the Aviation Industry of the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic,” a statement from the company said.
Earlier this year, the company’s 43-year-old general director Igor Nosov also died from a reported stroke after taking over the reins in May 2021.The Russian aviation industry has long been suspected of having direct ties with espionage.
In 2018, former deputy director of the Russian national air carrier Aeroflot Nikolai Glushkov — who famously claimed that about one-fourth of the company’s employees were officers of one of the branches of the country’s intelligence — was found hanged in his home in New Malden, London.
Glushkov was a notable Kremlin critic and a close friend of the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who was also found dead with a ligature around his neck in 2013.
Glushkov’s death also occurred right after the novichok poisoning of former GRU spy and double agent Alexei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, prompting the investigators to label it as suspicious.
The results of an inquest finalised in April 2021 showed that Glushkov was unlawfully killed, with his death made to look like a suicide by hanging.
‘Tripped and fell while smoking’
The news of Pechorin’s death came less than two weeks after the chairman of the board of Russia’s largest private oil company, Ravil Maganov, died in what Russian news agencies cited as an accidental fall from a hospital window.
Initially, a statement by his company Lukoil said Maganov “passed away after a severe illness” on 1 September but did not give further details.
Russian news reports later stated his body was found on the grounds of Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital, where Russia’s political and business elite are often treated.
Maganov appeared to have fallen from a sixth-story window, the reports said. Some sources claimed he tripped and fell while smoking, stating a pack of cigarettes was found by the window. The news site RBK also said police were investigating the possibility of suicide.
Lukoil was one of a few Russian companies to publicly call for an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling in March for the “immediate cessation of the armed conflict”.
Incidentally, Maganov was not the first Lukoil official to die under suspicious circumstances since Kremlin’s full-scale aggression against its western neighbour began in late February.
A former top manager Aleksandr Subbotin was found dead in the basement of a residence in a Moscow suburb in May.
Russian news reports said the house belonged to a self-styled healer, Shaman Magua, who practised 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, performs a healing ritual for hangover symptoms.
Investigators said the preliminary cause of Subbotin’s death was determined to be heart failure.
Yet, it is Ravil Maganov’s demise that caught the attention of the press, having been the most well-publicised in a string of accidental self-defenestrations and other suspicious deaths of those who either profited from good relations with Putin or were a thorn in his side — or both.
At least another eight Russian oligarchs have died in strange circumstances almost since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine. All had in common close links to the Kremlin, immense wealth, a connection to Russian gas and an anti-war stance on Ukraine.
This has raised the suspicions of international investigators, who are beginning to believe that these deaths may, in fact, have been staged suicides or assassinations due to their stance on the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine or their links to corruption in the Russian gas company Gazprom.
Leonid Shulman, 60, was found in the bathroom of the house with slashed wrists, local news reported, citing a source.
According to the police authorities, a suicide note was allegedly found next to his body, in which he recounted his suffering after a leg injury — which Gazprom claimed caused him to take a leave of absence.
The version has been questioned after the Warsaw Institue think tank stated that Shulman, who was the head of the transport service at Gazprom Invest, was involved in a possible corruption case at the Russian gas giant.
The morning after Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, Alexander Tyulyakov, 65, a senior executive of Gazproms’s Corporate Security, died at his home in the same village as Shulman. According to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, his body was found hanged in the garage.
The same newspaper quoted an unnamed law enforcement source as saying that Gazprom’s own security unit arrived at the scene of the suicide at the same time as the police and was also investigating the death.
One of two deaths that have taken place abroad is that of Mikhail Watford, who lived with his family in the UK. On 28 February, the Ukrainian-born 66-year-old oil and gas magnate, who also built a property empire in London, was found dead at his home in Surrey.
Watford’s cause of death was determined as death by hanging, but his wife and children, who were at home at the time, were unharmed. UK authorities were treating Watford’s death as unexplained but not suspicious.
It later emerged that Watford, commonly referred to as Misha, had changed his surname from Tolstosheya after moving to the UK in early 2000.
In March, the bodies of Russian billionaire Vasily Melnikov and his family were found in his luxury flat 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 the 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 allegedly found at the scene of the crime.
The newspaper reported that the oligarch had killed his family before committing suicide, although neighbours and other relatives disagreed with the official version.
Other media have 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 has taken place in Spain, more specifically in Lloret de Mar, where Russian oligarch Sergei Protosenya, 55, was found dead along with two other family members on 19 April.
The former head of the gas giant Novatek, with a personal worth of €400 million, was found hanged, along with those of his wife and daughter, who were stabbed to death in the family villa.
What was initially classified by the 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 state that Protosenya is, in fact, the third victim of a “staged suicide” and that the oligarch would have been incapable of murdering his family.
Just a day before the death of Protosenya and his family, the body of Russian oligarch Vladislav Avayev was found in his Moscow flat, along with the bodies of his wife and 13-year-old daughter. His daughter Anastasia, 26, was the one who discovered the crime scene.
Russian state-owned news agency TASS quoted a source close to law enforcement as saying that preliminary evidence pointed to Avayev — former advisor to Putin and former vice-president of Gazprombank — killing his wife and daughter and then committing suicide.
A pistol was found in the oligarch’s hand, and the flat was locked from the inside.
Gazprombank is Russia’s third-largest bank and is associated with Gazprom, the world’s largest publicly traded natural gas company.
Avayev was not the last Gazprom top-level manager to die under strange circumstances, however.
On 2 May, Andrei Krukovsky, the 37-year-old director of a Sochi ski resort owned by the gas giant, died after allegedly falling off a cliff while hiking near the Achipse fortress, the scenic area’s landmark monument.
“The general manager of the Krasnaya Polyana resort, Andrei Alekseevich Krukovsky, tragically passed away. He loved the mountains and found peace there,” TASS news agency reported.
The Krasnaya Polyana is one of the most popular ski venues in Russia and was a part of the Olympic complex during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
And on 4 July, multi-millionaire businessman Yuri Voronov was found in the swimming pool at his home in the affluent Vyborgsky neighbourhood of St Petersburg with a gunshot wound to his head.
The police retrieved a handgun at the scene, while bullet casings were found at the bottom of the pool, local media reported.
The 61-year-old Voronov, whose death was deemed to have been a suicide, was the CEO of Astra-Shipping transport and logistics company, a subcontractor to Gazprom with lucrative contracts tied to its operations in the Arctic.
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 he fell 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 he was an undercover officer with Russia’s FSB.
Investigative outlet Bellingcat said it used open-source data to identify the man as Kirill Zhalo, the son of General Alexey Zhalo, deputy director of the FSB’s Second Service, responsible for dealing with internal political threats for the Kremlin.
In December of the same year, the founder of nationalist blog Sputnik and Pogrom Yegor Prosvirnin died after falling out of a window of a Moscow apartment building.
Prosvirnin’s naked body was found next to a knife and a gas canister after shouts and yelling were heard from his apartment, local media reported.
Prosvirnin, a right-wing activist, originally supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 but later became a vocal critic of Putin, predicting a civil war in Russia and the collapse of the Russian Federation.
And on 14 August, Dan Rapoport, Latvian-American investment banker and outspoken Putin critic who had just left Ukraine after the Russian invasion, was found dead in front of a luxury apartment building in Washington DC.
Police say they were not treating Rapoport’s death as suspicious, the Washington-based Politico reported, but the case remains under investigation.
Rapoport became rich while in Moscow before falling out of favour with the Kremlin, mostly due to his support for the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, according to reports.
In 2017, Rapoport’s then-business partner, Sergei Tkachenko, also fell to his death from his Moscow apartment’s window.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, at least four health care workers have fallen out of windows in Russia, with only one surviving despite grave injuries.
At least three incidents of doctors self-defenestrating from hospital windows took place over a two-week period between April and May 2020, with media reports claiming they had protested working conditions during the worst wave of infections in the country prior to the incidents.
In December 2020, a top Russian scientist developing a novel COVID-19 vaccine, Alexander Kagansky, was found dead after falling from his high-rise apartment in St Petersburg
Boris Nemtsov, 2015
In the 1990s, Nemtsov was a political star of post-Soviet Russia’s “young reformers.” He became deputy prime minister and was, for a while, seen as possible presidential material – but it was Putin who succeeded former president Boris Yeltsin in 2000. Nemtsov publicly supported the choice, but he grew increasingly critical as Putin rolled back civil liberties and was eventually pushed to the margins of Russian political life. Nemstov led massive street rallies in protest of the 2011 parliamentary election results and wrote reports on official corruption. He also was arrested several times as the Kremlin cracked down on opposition rallies. In Feb. 2015, just hours after urging the public to join a march against Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine, Nemtsov was shot four times in the back by an unknown assailant within view of the Kremlin. Putin took “personal control” of the investigation into Nemtsov’s murder, but the killer remains at large.
Boris Berezovsky, 2013
A self-styled tycoon who become a fixture in Yeltsin’s inner circle in the late 1990s, Berezovsky is believed to have been instrumental in Putin’s rise to power (including a media campaign that smeared Nemtsov). But Berezovsky was unable to exert the influence under the new president he had hoped. His falling out with Putin led to his self-exile in the United Kingdom, where he vowed to bring down the president. He also accused the Kremlin of orchestrating the killing of Alexander Litvinenko, a former intelligence officer and whistleblower poisoned to death in 2009. Berezovsky was found dead inside a locked bathroom at his home in the United Kingdom, a noose around his neck, in what was at first deemed a suicide. However, the coroner’s office could not determine the cause of death.
Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, 2009
Markelov was a human rights lawyer known for representing Chechen civilians in human rights cases again the Russian military. He also represented journalists who found themselves in legal trouble after writing articles critical of Putin, including Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who was slain in 2006. Markelov was shot by a masked gunman near the Kremlin. Baburova, also a journalist from Novaya Gazeta, was fatally shot as she tried to help him. Russian authorities said a neo-Nazi group was behind the killings, and two members were convicted of the deaths.
Sergei Magnitsky, 2009
Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in police custody in November 2009 after allegedly being brutally beaten, then denied medical care. He had been working for British-American businessman William Browder to investigate a massive tax fraud case. Magnitsky was allegedly arrested after uncovering evidence suggesting that police officials were behind the fraud. In 2012, Magnitsky was posthumously convicted of tax evasion, and Browder lobbied the U.S. government to impose sanctions on those linked to his death. The sanctions bill bears his name and has since been applied to rights abusers in other cases.
This week a lawyer for Magnitsky’s family suffered severe head injures after plunging from his fourth-floor Moscow apartment. Russian news organizations reported Nikolai Gorokhov, 53, fell while helping movers carry a hot tub up to his apartment.
Natalya Estemirova, 2009
Natalya Estemirova was a journalist who investigated abductions and murders that had become commonplace in Chechnya. There, pro-Russian security forces waged a brutal crackdown to weed out Islamic militants responsible for some of the country’s worst terrorist attacks. Like fellow journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Estemirova reported on civilians who often got caught between these two violent forces. Estemirova was kidnapped outside her home, shot several times – including a point-blank shot in the head – and dumped in the nearby woods. Nobody has been convicted of her murder.
Anna Politkovskaya, 2006
Anna Politkovskaya was a Russian reporter for Novaya Gazeta whose book, “Putin’s Russia,” accused the Kremlin leader of turning the country into a police state. She wrote extensively about abuse in Chechnya, and once or twice appeared on radio shows in Moscow with me. She was shot at point-blank range in an elevator in her building. Five men were convicted of her murder, but the judge found that it was a contract killing, with $150,000 of the fee paid by a person whose identity was never discovered. Putin denied any Kremlin involvement in Politkovskaya’s killing, saying that her “death in itself is more damaging to the current authorities both in Russia and the Chechen Republic … than her activities.”
Alexander Litvinenko, 2006
Alexander Litvinenko was a former KGB agent who died three weeks after drinking a cup of tea laced with deadly polonium-210 at a London hotel. A British inquiry found that Litvinenko was poisoned by Russian agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, who were acting on orders that had “probably been approved by President Putin.” Russia refused to extradite them, and in 2015 the Russian president granted Lugovoi a medal for “services to the motherland.”
After leaving the Russian Federal Security Service, Litvinenko became a vocal critic of the agency, which was run by Putin, and later blamed the security service for orchestrating a series of apartment bombings in Russia in 1999 that left hundreds dead. Russia’s invasion of Chechnya followed later that year – and with it, the rise to power of Putin. Berezovsky was suspected to be complicit in at least part of the plot to bring Putin to the Kremlin, but he later sought to implicate Putin for Litvinenko’s killing. Litvinenko also accused Putin ordering the murder of Politkovskaya.
Sergei Yushenkov, 2003
The affable former army colonel was a favorite of parliamentary reporters in the early 1990s, when I was learning the trade for the Moscow Times. Sergei Yushenkov had just registered his Liberal Russia movement as a political party when he was gunned down outside his home in Moscow. Yushenkov was gathering evidence he believed proved that the Putin government was behind one of the apartment bombings in 1999.
Yuri Shchekochikhin, 2003
As a journalist and author who wrote about crime and corruption in the former Soviet Union when it was still very difficult to do so, Yuri Shchekochikhin once joined me on a police raid of crack houses in Philadelphia in 1988. He was investigating the 1999 apartment bombings for Novaya Gazeta when he contracted a mysterious illness in July 2003. He died suddenly, a few days before he was supposed to depart for the United States. His medical documents were deemed classified by Russian authorities.