Suicide or something worse? Suspicious deaths of Russia’s Oil Businessmen

Suspicious string of Russian oligarch deaths could point back to Putin regime. [Or, “The shot is coming from inside the house”]

Ravil Maganov, the Chairman of Lukoil, has died in Moscow following criticism of Putin’s war on Ukraine. The oil executive supposedly died by suicide after jumping out of a sixth story window in the hospital he was being treated for a “severe illness,” according to the oil company. 

Of course, this kind of story is not new. 

Maganov, 67, is just the most recent in a string of high-profile Russians dying mysteriously by so-called suicides in recent years, but especially so in the past few months of the Ukraine invasion. At least eight prominent Russian businessmen have allegedly committed suicide since January, six of whom were working with Russia’s two largest oil companies, Lukoil and Gazprom. 

Lukoil is Russia’s largest private company, a status which has been largely attributed to Maganov’s managerial skills– earning him a Lifetime Achievement award from President Putin just three years ago. However, when Putin invaded Ukraine, the Lukoil Board issued a statement, “calling for the soonest termination of the armed conflict, we [Lukoil] express our sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy. We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy.”

A Lifetime Achievement award from Putin might mean you don’t have much lifetime left.

In April, within the same 48 hours of each other, two Russian oligarchs were accused of  orchestrating a murder-suicide of their families. 

On April 18, Vladislav Ayalev, the former Vice President of Gazprombank, was found dead in his Moscow apartment along with his wife and young daughter, all of the family had gunshot wounds. Igor Volobuev, former VP of Gazprombank who fled to Ukraine from Russia, told the media, “[Ayalev’s] job was to deal with private banking, that means dealing with VIP clients. He was in charge of very large amounts of money. So, did he kill himself? I don’t think so. I think he knew something and that he posed some sort of risk.”

The very next day, on April 19, former Deputy Chairman of Russian gas company Novatek, Sergey Protosenya, was found dead by hanging in his Catalonian vacation home along with the bodies of his wife and teenage daughter, both of whom had been stabbed. Since this gruesome discovery, Protosenya’s surviving son Fedor (who was at the family’s home in France at the time) has come out in defense of his father, saying, “He [Sergey] could never do anything to harm them. I don’t know what happened that night but I know that my dad did not hurt them.” 

Protosenya’s former company Novatek also released a statement speaking to his character and casting doubt on the theory that he could’ve hurt his family: “Sergey Protosenya worked in the NOVATEK group from 1997 to 2015. He established himself as an outstanding person and a wonderful family man, a strong professional who made a considerable contribution to the formation and development of the Company. Unfortunately, speculations have emerged in the media about this topic, but we are convinced that these speculations bear no relation to reality.”

Sergey Protosenya with his wife and daughter.

What is most surprising about this string of deaths is not the deaths themselves, but the fact that Putin’s regime believes it can lie to the public about what is clearly a pattern of Russians dying following a lack of support for Putin’s war.

If Putin were not so threatened by the truth, he would not go to such lengths to ensure the Russian people don’t have access to correct information. As we reported last month, just weeks into launching this unprovoked war did Putin pass new laws calling for the arrest and imprisonment of anyone speaking out against the Russian armed forces and the invasion of Ukraine. 

The truth is Putin’s enemy. This is why he and his regime feel the need to silence anyone on the side of the truth. SARFAN community, we cannot let this deter us from making sure we are doing everything we can to fight the misinformation war. Stay safe, stay vigilant, and stay informed. 


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