Many of the few and their families were found dead in similar circumstances

At least four wealthy businessmen were found dead, in Russia or at residence in Europe. Some with their families.

In the late ’90s, everything smiled at them. The fall of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a market economy enabled them to enrich themselves, especially in the field of raw materials. Some, at the helm of strategic companies, even established important relations with the top of the state, taking advantage of Vladimir Putin’s indulgence. But since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the golden age of the oligarchy seems to have begun to deteriorate.

Hard hit by sanctions

It was initially a rain of economic sanctions that fell on them. Westerners, aware of the role this economic class played in keeping warlord Vladimir Putin in power, hit it hard in their wallet. Farewell to financial assets, yachts, villas and chalets located on European soil.

Now it is a series of mysterious suicides that bring them more light. Since February 28, at least four of the oligarchs have been found dead according to the magazine NEWSWEEK, which also mentions two deaths prior to that date. All in circumstances that amount to suicide.

But what is even more disturbing is that three of them would have killed his wife and children before they would have killed themselves. Michael Watford is the first victim on this shocking list, and the only one who has not been found dead along with his loved ones. The 66-year-old was born in the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and had made his fortune from oil and gas. On February 28, he was found dead at his home in Surrey, UK.

It was the gardener who discovered it hanging in his garage. But a police source told the BBC that the circumstances surrounding his death were not “suspicious” at the moment.

Family drama series

Then on March 24, Vasily Melnikov, along with his wife Galina and two sons, was found dead in his apartment in Nizhny Novgorod, a large Russian city. According to police sources quoted by the Moscow Daily newspaper, KommersantVasily Melnikov allegedly stabbed his wife and two sons before committing suicide. and always according to KommersantNo trace of outside interference was found in the apartment.

After this date, two more family dramas emerged to influence the oligarchy. On April 18, Vladislav Avayev, who previously worked at Gazprombank, a banking subsidiary of the Russian gas giant Gazprom, was found murdered along with his wife and 13-year-old daughter. Their bodies were found in a luxury apartment in Moscow. A pistol was discovered in the hands of an oligarch. He allegedly killed his wife and son before committing suicide. Before Gazprombank, Vladislav Avaev worked in the office of the President of the Russian Federation, as well as in the State Duma, the Russian parliament.

Map indicating the death of various oligarchs since February 28.
Map indicating the death of various oligarchs since February 28. © BFMTV screenshot

Finally, on April 19, Sergei Protosinya, CEO of Russian energy giant Novatek, was found dead along with his wife and daughter in a rented villa in Lloret de Mar, Spain. The body of the millionaire was found hanging in the garden of the villa. His wife and daughter were reportedly stabbed to death.

“He was someone who wasn’t known for violence. Imagine someone killing his wife and daughter just because of personal problems? It seems very strange to me,” Denis Strelkov told BFMTV, a Russian journalist who works for RFI.

According to local media Telecino, the police are currently following two leads. The suicide-followed double murder, or triple murder, is disguised as a family drama.

the end of the world?

At the moment, there is no element connecting these various deaths and the intervention of the Kremlin. Especially since among these few, none of them spoke out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, for example, the Russian billionaire Oleg Tinkov, who last week denounced the Kremlin’s “crazy war” waged by an “army” of shit.

Former Russian diplomat Vladimir Federovsky also warned against hasty accusations.

“For now, we have to be careful,” he warns.

But this string of suicides and family murders among Russia’s ruling economic class sends a message. Vladimir Federovsky believes that “this portends the end of a disgraceful regime, which Navalny especially denounced.”

Kelve Lavigne, Marjorie Marcilac, Jeremy Bayer and Florian Borras, with Jules Freesard

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