The Death of Six Russian Oligarchs: The Black Series

It is Putin’s other arm, which allows him to direct the entire economy and control all its profits: thanks to a group of oligarchs, greedy and terrorized by the master of the Kremlin, Russia has been living for more than twenty years. years under regulated cuts. Little wonder, then, if all of today’s political turmoil finds direct repercussions in the domain of the regime’s official businessmen. Specifically, a strange series of sudden disappearances and suspicious deaths highlights the malaise that afflicted Moscow’s first circle of influence.

In quick succession, six of the few died in a way so bizarre, that many observers sometimes contemplate forced suicide, sometimes disguised exclusion – without any glaring evidence to support these James Bond scenarios. On March 23, Vasily Melnikov, tycoon of the drug group MedStom, found out at his home in Nizhny Novgorod, a bullet in the skull, knowing that his wife and daughter were stabbed not far from him.

On April 18, Vladislav Avayev, the former head of Russia’s Gazprombank, was found dead in Moscow. There, too, the bodies of his wife and daughter lay nearby, full of lead.

Then, on April 19, the death of Sergei Protosinya, the former general manager of Novatek, a major Russian natural gas producer (in which the French group Total holds 19% of the capital), was added to the park. Villa in Lloret de Mar, Spain. The bodies of his wife and 18-year-old daughter, who were stabbed, lay on a bed near an ax and a knife.

The funeral series began since the beginning of the war in Ukraine

If we compare these strange deaths to three other suicides (near London and Russia) that occurred in January and February, shortly before or shortly after Vladimir Putin’s “special operation” against Ukraine, we get a very disturbing set of doubts. Not to mention the case of Roman Abramovich, the legendary owner of Chelsea, who claimed he was poisoned after a meeting in Ukraine.

There is no doubt that we should put this funeral series into a sequence that opened on February 24 with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As early as mid-March, Putin warned his circle of businessmen, who are considered insufficiently involved in the war: “I do not condemn those who have a villa in Miami or on the Cote d’Azur, who cannot do without them. Foie gras, oysters or what It’s called gender freedom.But the problem is that many of these people exist mentally and are not here with our people?

The oligarchy owes their position as much as their fortune to the Supreme Leader of Russia, who demands semi-sacrifice loyalty in return. However, many of them, defenders of the economic interests of the large groups they led, allowed themselves to doubt the advisability of war. Mikhail Fridman, head of Alfa Bank, denounced a “tragedy”, while his colleague Alexei Mordakhov, who was ranked by the American magazine Forbes, at the head of all Russia’s fortunes, denounced the “tragedy of two sister nations.” And what about Oleg Deripaska, who often lives in London, for whom “peace is very important”, or Vaguet Alekperov, head of the oil giant Lukoil, who openly opposed the war.

In contrast, the other oligarchs are more disdainful. The dividing line crosses the entire secret world of large Russian corporations, where several clans (former supporters of Boris Yeltsin, Putin strawmen, etc.) collide, under the eyes of Siloviki, shadow officers responsible for intelligence and labor services, which have their own logic of removal. We do not know how to distinguish between the struggle of the merchant factions, the ferocious sharing of profits threatened by the sanction regime and the violent orders of the central power.

The oligarchs who want to distance themselves from the Kremlin must not forget that they are its hostages. In any case, this is the message the Kremlin wants to convey loud and clear.

The war in Ukraine: carry on with our lives

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