Russian personalities continue to die in mysterious circumstances
Vladimir Putin with Lukoil leader Ravil Maganov, who died earlier this month.
Photo: Mikhail Klimenntiev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
Anatoly Gerashchenko, the former director of the Moscow Aviation Institute, was working at the university this week as an adviser when he “died in an accident”, according to the group’s press release. The Russian newspaper Izvestia reports that the 70-year-old aviation expert “fell from a great height, tumbling down several flights of stairs” to his death.
Gerashchenko is far from the only high-profile Russian figure to have lost his life in bizarre circumstances in recent weeks. On September 14, the 68-year-old editor of the pro-Kremlin state newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, Vladimir Sungorkin, died while on a business trip to the Russian Far East. According to a colleague who wrote about the incident, Sungorkin “started choking” while driving; a doctor later determined that he had suffered a stroke. The day before Sungorkin died, Ivan Pechorin, the 39-year-old chief executive of the Far East and Arctic Development Corporation, also died in the Far East, falling from a moving boat in the Sea of Japan.
The most notable death among the ranks of Russia’s business elite came on September 1, when Ravil Maganov, the 67-year-old chairman of Lukoil, died after falling from the sixth-floor window of the clinical hospital. center of Moscow. Russian state news agency TASS reported the death of the leader of the country’s second largest oil and gas company as a suicide.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, about 15 Russian oil executives and bankers have died in at least moderately suspicious circumstances. In August, Putin’s Latvian critic and banker Dan Rapoport died from his apartment in Washington, DC – although police say there is no suspicion of foul play. Billionaire and former Lukoil executive Alexander Subbotin was found dead at a shaman’s house north of Moscow in May. Former Gazprombank vice president Vladislav Avayev was found dead of a gunshot wound in April, along with his wife and 13-year-old daughter. Also in April, former Novatek executive Sergey Protosenya was found hanging from a banister in the courtyard of an apartment in Spain, with his wife and daughter dead inside. The idea that he might have been responsible for the deaths, the company said, bears “no relation to reality”.
To date, there is no clear theory for the strange string of deaths, although some of those on the list have voiced criticism of Putin or the war, and prominent dissidents of his regime. have long faced deadly consequences. Rapoport was a strong supporter of imprisoned critic Alexei Navalny and frequently spoke out against the invasion of Ukraine on social media. Although the deceased leaders of Lukoil are not in the habit of criticizing the state in public, in March the board of directors of Lukoil called “for the speediest end to the armed conflict” in Ukraine and that they “express our sincere empathy for all the victims”. The list is not full of dissidents, however. Pechorin was reportedly chosen by Putin himself to head the Far East oil development company, and Sungorkin ran a staunchly pro-Kremlin newspaper.