7th Russian oligarch dies in mysterious circumstances this year

7th Russian oligarch dies in mysterious circumstances this year
Russian president Vladimir Poutine. Credit: Belga

A string of Russian oligarchs have mysteriously died since Russia's war on Ukraine. Now, former top manager and executive Alexander Subbotin from Russia's largest company, Lukoil, has also been found dead.

At least seven Russian oligarchs have been found dead since the start of the year. Subbotin was the seventh.

Subbotin was found dead on Sunday, 8 May, in a shaman's home in Mytishchi, a city northeast of Moscow, according to Russian news agency TASS. He apparently went there to get a 'cure for his hangover'.

The Russian news agency wrote that the shaman made a small incision in Subbotin's skin to inject venom to induce vomiting. But instead of vomiting, Subbotin experienced severe chest pains, leading to a rapid deterioration of his condition.

Instead of alerting emergency services, the shaman recommended that Subbotin should rest at home. The next morning, Subbotin was found dead, apparently from a heart attack.


Bill Browder, a financier who once invested in foreign portfolios in Russia, and a driving force behind the landmark Magnitsky Act in the US and Europe, told Newsweek that people should assume the worst "any time you see a wealthy Russian dying in suspicious circumstances."

"There has been enough empirical evidence of assassinations organised by the Kremlin or business rivals in Russia, to make it likely that these were murders and not suicides and other explanations that have been bandied about by the Russian authorities," Browder added.

Russian authorities have since launched a criminal investigation after Subbotin's body was found in a basement used for 'Jamaican voodoo rituals', according to TASS.

A grim trend

The billionaire's death is the latest after a series of Russian businessmen were found dead in unusual circumstances.

Two of the incidents were seemingly murder-suicides in luxurious homes in Russia and Spain. Subbotin's death comes after former manager of Russian energy company Novatek, Sergey Prosenya, was found hanged in his home in Spain's Catalonia region on 19 April.

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His wife and daughter were discovered dead in their beds with stab wounds. local authorities investing the deaths put them down to murder-suicide.

Also in April, former deputy chairman of the state gas company Gazprom, Vladislav Avayev, was found dead in his apartment, along with his wife and daughter. Avayev supposedly shot them first, then himself.

The deaths had two things in common, Newsweek noted. None of the dead oligarchs were outwardly critical of Russian leader Vladimir Putin's war an Ukraine, and none were put in the extensive sanctions list on Russia.

Yet their lack of outward criticism apparently wasn't enough to save them. Polish think tank, The Warsaw Institute, didn't mince when words when it pointed out that the number of suicides "seemed somewhat suspect."

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