A Russian oligarch has died mysteriously after being poisoned by a toad, making this the sixth Russian oligarch to die since the beginning of the Ukraine war.
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In the ten weeks since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, at least five Russian oligarchs have died in unexplained ways.
And now there’s another to add to the bleak list.
Alexander Subbotin, a billionaire and former CEO of Russian energy firm Lukoil, was discovered dead in the Moscow district of Mytishchi.
When Subbotin died, he was apparently receiving “alternative medicine” treatment for a hangover. Offbeat treatments are popular among Russia’s upper class, with Putin himself experimenting with a strange “deer antler” remedy.
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Subbotin had visited a shaman who specialized in executing a “treatment” employing a venomous toad, according to the Telegram channel Mash.
“They made an incision on the skin, dripped toad poison there, and after vomiting the patient allegedly got better,” according to the outlet. “They also called spirits, sacrificed animals and bathed in cock’s blood.”
Subbotin was said to have felt ill following the treatment, but instead of seeking medical assistance, the shaman put him to bed to sleep it off.
“He felt unwell …his heart ached,” Ukraine Today reported. “The owner decided not to call an ambulance, gave Corvalol and put the businessman to sleep in the basement. There, the man died”.
The rise of Putin has strengthened Russia’s wealthy elite. As the old Soviet Union crumbled and state assets were offloaded to private bidders, sometimes in shady arrangements, the first wave of Russian oligarchs made their fortunes.
Almost all of today’s oligarchs are current or former Putin officials, and they owe their fortunes to the Russian leader. However, as a result of the sanctions imposed as a result of the Ukraine crisis, the billionaires now own well over $80 billion, and many of them have begun to criticize Putin’s leadership.
Subbotin’s death brings the total number of sudden deaths among Russia’s billionaires to six since the war began. Just weeks before war broke out, a seventh tycoon died.
Sergey Protosenya, a former executive for Russian energy firm Novatek, was discovered dead in a rented property in Spain with his wife and kid last month.
In the same week, a former vice-president of Gazprombank, Vladislav Avaev, and his wife and daughter were discovered dead in their multi-million property on Universitetsky Prospekt in Moscow.
Vasily Melnikov died at a luxury apartment in Nizhny Novgorod with his family in March.
Mikhail Watford, a Russian oil and gas mogul who was born Mikhail Tolstosheya, was discovered hanging in his Surrey garage in February.
Gazprom director Alexander Tyulyakov had been discovered dead in a home near St. Petersburg just a few days before. Leonid Shulman, Tyulyakov’s coworker, was found dead in the bathtub of his cottage near Leningrad before the war began, in what was described as a suicide.