There have been quite a few mysterious assassinations of Russian executives as of late. Despite none of the top executives having officially condemned Russia’s current war in Ukraine, some believe they were killed because they opposed it.
The most recent in a series of inexplicable deaths among Russian executives, many of whom had ties to the energy sector, was a recent executive who fell into the sea.
Ivan Pechorin, the aviation director of the Far East and Arctic Development Company (KRDV), reportedly sailed close to the Russian island on September 10 while intoxicated and fell overboard from the boat, according to local media in Vladivostok, a city in the Russian Far East. After a two-day search, his body was discovered washed up 100 miles from Vladivostok.
He had delivered a speech on transportation at the city’s Eastern Economic Forum two days prior to his passing. The forum’s main topic was the growth of Russia’s energy and mineral-rich far east economically. On September 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin also attended the forum and spoke.
Pechorin, 39, was referred to locally as “Putin’s man.” Putin allegedly put him in that position on his own. His accident is viewed as strange by many.
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He is not the company’s first executive to pass away suddenly. Igor Nosov, the company’s 43-year-old chief executive, passed away after a stroke in February. Nosov reportedly got sick after learning of his termination from the company at a meeting and passed away soon after, according to the Russian business daily RBC. The cause of his dismissal was not mentioned in the report.
Nosov had only been in the position for nine months, whilst Eduard Cherkin, who was also a government appointee, had only been there for four.
In Putin’s plan to develop the abundant energy and mineral resources of Russia’s easternmost territory, KRDV is a crucial company. Pechorin was in charge of upgrading the airport’s infrastructure to increase the region’s aviation accessibility.
In light of the harsh sanctions imposed by the West, the development of Russia’s far east, especially the Arctic, has grown in significance for the Russian economy.
Experts: Energy Industry Secretly Funds Russian Intelligence Operations
Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist and the author of “Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy,” believes that special agents are to blame for the odd run of fatalities of Russian energy executives this year.
“There is a cleaning out going on and it’s difficult to pin down any one person … who’s doing it,” he told the New York Post. “But this looks like Kremlin murders to me.”
Aslund told the newspaper that Russian intelligence compiled two lists of leaders in the nation’s energy industry, one in late 2021 and the other in early March, citing his own Russian sources. He claimed that authorities had reason to believe that someone in the energy sector had leaked details about how it supported covert actions carried out by Russian foreign intelligence, including the invasion of Ukraine.
“Putin finances a lot of his operations through Gazprom and Gazprombank, and the executives who work there know all about this secret financing. The gas sector is the most corrupt sector in Russia,” Aslant said.
Security personnel at Gazprom, the largest publicly traded Russian state-run natural gas corporation in the world, were reportedly looking into four of the business’s five executive deaths, according to a report from the Warsaw Institute, a think tank, in April.
“At least two of the executives knew a lot about the company’s financial flow,” the report said. “In all cases, there are widespread suspicions that the deaths may have been staged as suicides. But who did this and why? Possibly some senior Kremlin-linked people are now covering up the traces of fraud in state-run companies.”
The U.S. Justice Department charged Mark Gyetvay, chief financial officer of Novatek, the largest producer of liquefied natural gas in Russia, with tax fraud as early as last September for hiding a significant amount of his overseas assets.
Mysterious Deaths of Four Gazprom Executives
Alexander Tyulakov, a Gazprom official, was discovered hanging in a garage close to St. Petersburg on February 25. Tyulyakov served as the Unified Settlement Center’s (UCC) Deputy General Director for Corporate Security for Gazprom. Nearly instantly after the incident, police and the company’s security division arrived on the site.
Leonid Shulman, who oversaw the firm’s transportation and investment services, was discovered dead in his bathroom at the end of January with several stab wounds. According to Russian media, a note next to him said that he had been unable to endure the discomfort from a leg injury.
Vladimir Avayev, a former vice president of Gazprombank, his wife, and their daughter, age 13, were discovered dead in their Moscow apartment on April 18.
According to investigators, 51-year-old Avayev killed his wife and daughter before committing suicide. His eldest daughter, 22, is quoted as saying that there was no indication that anyone else was in the apartment at the time of the shooting and that the door was closed from the inside.
However, those who spoke with Avayev just before he passed away reported that he had been in a positive mood and did not seem inclined to kill his family. The company’s other two top executives were soon discovered dead in a mansion compound close to St. Petersburg.
Astra-Shipping founder and contractor for Gazprom’s arctic projects, Yuri Voronov, was discovered dead in the pool of his opulent villa outside of St. Petersburg in July in addition to these four other fatalities. He had been shot in the head at close range.
Despite none of the top executives having officially condemned Russia’s current war in Ukraine, some believe they were killed because they opposed it. This explanation is in addition to the one that suggests they knew too much about fraud.