Several Russian oligarchs, who have either worked at energy firms or amassed their fortune from oil and gas, have been found dead in suspicious circumstances, not only in Russia but also in the UK and Spain.
One of the latest suspicious deaths was that of Vladislav Avayev, a former vice president at Russian bank Gazprombank—the bank at the center of Russia’s rubles-for-gas payment scheme—and a former Kremlin official. According to police in Moscow, Avayev killed his wife and daughter before killing himself in their Moscow apartment.
Just days after Avayev’s suspected murder-suicide, Sergey Protosenya and his family were found dead in Spain. Protosenya worked at Russia’s top independent gas producer Novatek from 1997 to 2015, the company told Newsweek in an email, following Protosenya’s death. Reports have it that Protosenya’s mother and daughter were stabbed to death, while Sergey Protosenya had apparently hanged himself in a Spanish villa.
Two former Gazprom executives, Leonid Shulman and Alexander Tyulyakov, were also found dead earlier this year. Shulman was found dead by apparent suicide in January, while Tyulyakov was found dead a day after Russia invaded Ukraine. Both men have reportedly left suicide notes, Fortune reports, but the wave of deaths of gas executives have made many people suspect that there is a purge of energy-related executives or former executives in Russia.
Gennady Gudkov, a former colonel at Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB)—the successor of the KGB—told Daily Star that the similarities in the deaths of all those gas executives were suspicious, at the very least.
“If we already understand that the regime is engaged in the elimination of its opponents and enemies, then why will they not deal with those who are considered traitors who have fled the system,” Gudkov was quoted as saying.
At least two of the dead executives knew a lot about Gazprom’s finances and cash flows, Warsaw Institute reported this weekend.
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