Twenty-three deaths among the rich and powerful: the Russian mystery to which Putin could be the key

On February 25, 2022, less than twenty-four hours after the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, one of the main executives of the Russian company Gazprom, Alexander Tyulyakov, was found hanged in his garage in Leningrad. Witnesses claim that a few hours earlier, the man had been beaten up by unidentified individuals on the public highway.

Tyulyakov’s death was not the first loss recorded by Gazprom, since a few weeks earlier, on January 30, it was Leonid Shulman, another executive of the company, who had died. His lifeless body, accompanied by a note mentioning his suicide, was found in the bathtub of the luxurious hotel room he occupied in Saint PETERSBOURG.

The 1is September 2022, Ravil Maganov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Russia’s largest private oil company, Lukoil, fell out of the sixth floor window of thehospital center of Moscow, where he was staying due to a heart problem. Known for his opposition to the war in Ukraine, he did not survive.

November 25th, billionaire Vyacheslav Taran, who had made his fortune from cryptocurrency, died in a helicopter crash on his way to his Monaco home. The passenger who was supposed to accompany him apparently canceled his trip at the last minute.

On December 9 in Antibes, another billionaire, the giant ofimmovable Dmitry Zelenov, fell down the stairs after having dinner with friends.

The Sydney Morning Herald has identified twenty-three suspicious, or at least unexpected, deaths of Russian citizens known for their great wealth or high rank in society. The oldest on the list is that of Leonid Shulman and the last three date from a few days ago, since two deaths were announced on December 24 and a third on December 25 – that of Alexei Maslov, former head of the armed forces. Russians who have become his country’s military representative to NATO.

Various causes

On average, between the end of January and the end of December 2022, a Russian belonging to the country’s elite died every two weeks in curious circumstances and/or despite his iron health. This series of deaths, which can hardly be considered a coincidence, resembles the starting point of a vast spy film: in the four corners of the globe, powerful men, all of Russian nationality, have experienced various and varied deaths – also, among other causes, poisoning with toad venom and the motor boat accident.

Doubt obviously took a long time to spread. On July 9, 2022, a Wikipedia page titled «2022 Russian Businessmen Mystery Deaths» was created by an anonymous user to list all the strange deaths that occurred in Russia in 2022. In October, the financier Bill Browder could be heard talking on the American channel ABC about what he described as a “murder epidemic”. For him, no hesitation: there were contracts on the head of each of these men.

For his part, political science professor Jeffrey Winters, of the University of Illinois, insists that most of the deceased were very rich, in very good healthand that they had bodyguards and attentive staff: “These are not the kind of people who accidentally fall down the stairs or from their hospital window.”

Make them mighty or grind them

Believing that the list of these suspicious deaths will grow even longer, Jeffrey Winters advises to eye the side of theSaudi ArabiaChina and Russia, “the only places where a lot of oligarchs have been arrested, imprisoned, or died in strange circumstances”. For the professor of political science, there is little doubt: the common denominator of this set of tragedies is called Vladimir Putin.

“It’s a oligarch sultanesque, he says, the alpha oligarch in Russia. He can make them mighty or crush them. For them, it is both a guarantee of security and a danger. It all depends on whether the Russian president feels they are with or against him.

According to the professor, the phasing out of some of these high profile Russians makes tremendous sense: “One of the ways that [Poutine] A way to show one’s power is to make examples by choosing certain individuals from certain groups. It reminds others that he is the one who butters their sandwiches and also the one who can take everything away from them. This is a very common motif in the history of the oligarchy.”

On his side, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation did not wish to respond to requests for information made by several international media, including CNN. A silence that will surprise no one.

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