Speculation about a series of murders
A Russian billionaire would have died at the home of shamans
May 9, 2022, 2:01 p.m.
Another former high-ranking Russian leader and energy tycoon dies mysteriously. Given the history of Russian state assassination attempts, there is speculation that President Vladimir Putin may be involved. But the dead were not among his detractors before.
In their reports, the Russian media describe the death of Alexander Subbotin in dazzling detail: a shaman and his wife received the former high-ranking oil executive for “treatment against a hangover” after excessive consumption of alcohol, according to the popular Russian Telegram channel “Mash”. In their apartment north of Moscow, the shaman couple cut the patient’s skin and dripped toad poison into the wounds. After further processing steps such as incantation of spirits, animal sacrifice and a bath in the rooster’s blood, Subbotin “suddenly felt uneasy”. Instead of calling an ambulance, the shamans dropped the billionaire into the basement, where they found him dead soon after. Now the police are investigating.
This report seems adventurous and should be treated with extreme caution. There is no official confirmation of the details described by “Mash” and other media. Nonetheless, Subbotin’s death and its mysterious circumstances make you sit up and take notice. Because the case is part of a series of sudden deaths of Russian businessmen and senior executives, especially in the energy sector. Subbotin was a director at oil giant Lukoil and was reportedly at one point considered a candidate for the job. He then joined a logistics company called NTC.
More recently, the former deputy director of Gazprom Bank, Valdislav Avaev, and the former director of Novatek, Russia’s largest private gas producer, Sergei Protosenya, died in April. Both allegedly killed their wives and children first, then themselves. Avaev’s body along with that of his wife and daughter were found at the family home in Moscow on April 18. Protosenja reportedly hanged himself in his villa in Spain two days later, after also killing his wife and daughter. At least Spanish investigators haven’t ruled out outside influence yet.
Russian-Ukrainian oil and gas tycoon Mikhail Watford, now based in the UK, died, believed to be by suicide, in February, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. A few days earlier, senior Gazprom official Alexander Tyulyakov reportedly hanged himself in St. Petersburg. Gazprom logistics chief Leonid Schulman was found dead in his bathroom near St Petersburg in January. Police also suspect a suicide.
Fraud investigations and economic issues
Vasily Melnikov is another billionaire who died by suspected suicide in March. He too would have killed his wife and children, then himself. He was the only one in that line who was not in the oil business. I own the medical group MedStom.
Although there is no evidence of third-party negligence in any of the cases, the parallels between the deaths are too great not to fuel speculation about a possible series of murders. In view of the numerous proven and suspected assassination attempts on Russian opposition figures and critics of President Vladimir Putin, suspicion falls first on the head of state himself, but unlike the star of the opposition Alexei Navalny, whom the Russian secret service tried to poison, and many other deaths, none of the most recent deaths were Senior executives have emerged politically.
Other oligarchs, like ex-banker Oleg Tinkov, who has taken a clear stand against the war in Ukraine, have publicly expressed their fear of being victims of Putin’s revenge, but are still alive. However, the motive for possible crimes does not have to be political. As longtime insiders in Russia’s corruption-prone oil sector, the deceased executives may have had knowledge of illegal dealings that should not be made public, the Polish Institute in Warsaw speculates. “It is possible that some high-level people with Kremlin ties are now covering up fraud in state-owned companies,” the think tank wrote in a blog post.
Despite all the speculation about the motives for the murder, there are also indications of possible motives for an extended suicide, at least in some of the more recent deaths. For example, Melnikov’s medical group apparently suffered economic difficulties as a result of the war in Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions. Gazprom chief logistician Schulman has been investigated for suspected fraud.