Death of Russian oil exec highlights suspicious ends met by those who crossed the Kremlin

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The mysterious death of a major Russian oil boss has raised as many questions as it has provided answers.

Lukoil, Russia’s largest private oil company, said on Thursday at the age of 67 that its chairman Ravil Maganov “died after a serious illness”.

But citing two sources familiar with his death, Reuters reported that he died after falling from the window of Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital. Several Russian media outlets, citing law enforcement sources, have also suggested that he was trying to smoke when he collapsed to death.

NBC News has not verified how he died and Maganov’s family remained silent on the matter. The hospital and police declined to comment, and the Russian Commission of Inquiry has not returned requests for comment.

However, several Western commentators have noted that Lukoil, the country’s second-largest oil producer, spoke out against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war a few days after his troops invaded Ukraine and called for an end to it.

And while no political connection with Maganov’s death has been established, several people who chose to cross the Kremlin have died suddenly and under unexplained circumstances.

Risky business

“There has been a remarkable number of suspicious deaths of senior executives associated with the oil and gas industry in recent months,” John Lough, an associate fellow at London think tank Chatham House, told NBC News Thursday via email.

“It is reminiscent of the banditry of the 1990s in Russia during the first phase of privatization after the collapse of the USSR,” added Lough, who specializes in Russian affairs.

Maganov’s death follows the deaths of seven other senior Russian energy managers since the beginning of the year. Among them was his former Lukoil chief executive Alexander Subbotin, whose body was discovered in May in the basement of a mansion in the Moscow region, city police said.

Other senior executives of natural gas giants Gazprom and Novatek, as well as Vladislav Avayev, the former vice president of Russia’s third-largest bank, Gazprombank, have also died.

“This suggests that there is some serious infighting in the sector related to access to financial flows,” Lough said.

Olga Oliker, program director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Crisis Group in Brussels, said “trend” was the wrong word to describe the dead. She said there were enough incidents to argue that Russian state policy allows political assassinations or that it lacks control over its security forces and lacks the capacity to prevent them.

“There are enough incidents that those who come into contact with, or appear to be, Russian leadership may be concerned about potential threats to their lives,” she said.

Kremlin Reviewers

Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin in February 2015, police said, a day before a planned protest against Putin’s rule.

Nemtsov was a sharp critic of Putin, attacking his government’s inefficiency, rampant corruption and the Kremlin’s policies toward Ukraine. A report he was working on on Russia’s military involvement in the war in eastern Ukraine and in the annexation of Crimea was released after his death.

People march in memory of Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov on March 1, 2015 in central Moscow.Epsilon/Getty Images File

Five men were found guilty and jailed for his murder, but Nemtsov’s death left the country’s opposition without a central figure and provoked anger among critics who attacked the Kremlin for creating an atmosphere of intolerance for any dissent and called murder murder.

His death has been compared by Kremlin critics and Western commentators to that of prominent investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead in October 2006.

Known for her critical coverage of the war in Chechnya despite numerous acts of intimidation and violence, Politkovskaya had written a critical book on Putin and his campaign in the region, documenting the widespread abuse of civilians by government forces.

Police investigated her death as murder, but it remains unsolved and the Kremlin has denied any connection to both her death and Nemtsov’s.

Just over a month after Politkovskaya’s murder, former Russian spy-turned-dissident Alexander Litvinenko died a painful death in 2006 in London after drinking tea containing an extremely rare radioactive substance called “polonium-210,” British police said. .

The haunting image of Litvinenko in his hospital bed became world famous as the face of tortured suffering. After about three weeks of misery, he fell into a coma and died at the age of 43 after claiming on his deathbed that Putin probably ordered him to kill him.

Litvinenko, a decorated KGB and FSB officer, left Russia in 2000 and settled in the United Kingdom, where he became an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and Putin.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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