Thirteen Russian Oligarchs Dead In Mysterious Circumstances Since January

Dr. E.C. Beuck
Vladimir Nikolayevich SungorkinFHMRUSSIA on Wikimedia Commons

Following the initial Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, there has been a wave of Russian oligarchs that have died under mysterious circumstances. The latest of these deaths occurred only yesterday, September 14th, when Vladimir Nikolayevich Sungorkin, the Editor-in-chief of the Russian state newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, supposedly suffered a stroke and suffocated on his way to a lunch. An important ally of President Vladimir Putin, it is possible that this latest death was simply the result of the stroke and not instigated by someone else. The same might be said for others in this list of 13 oligarchs as well.

But the circumstances surrounding some of the deaths could not be more indicative of foul play. For example, Vasily Melnikov, a Russian businessman and owner of Medstorm, Vladislav Avayev, the former vice-president at Gazprombank, and Sergey Protosenya, the former executive of Novatek, all share one thing in common. They were all found dead in the same locations as the bodies of their wives and children.

For their part, many of the friends and families of the deceased Russian businessmen were of the opinion that they would not have taken their own lives, let alone the lives of their wives and children in the case of the three mentioned here previously. Moreover, these suspicious deaths, and the reactions towards them by those the deceased knew while alive, have been going on for some time now. For example, between the years of 2014 and 2017, essentially since Russia's initial aggressive moves to seize territory in Ukraine, there were some 38 Russian businessmen and oligarchs who had close ties to the Kremlin and President Putin who died in suspicious circumstances. In the case of more than a few of them, we may never know what really happened.

Regardless, with the war turning even further against President Putin and the Russian forces deployed to Ukraine, and with several months left in the year, it is possible these are not the last mysterious deaths of Russian oligarchs to occur in 2022.

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Holding a PhD in Political Science, I write about current events and on political topics related to international relations, international law, conflict both between and within states, and the interactions between technology and politics.

Washington, DC

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