Yet another Russian energy tycoon has died in mysterious circumstances, bringing the total of deaths among Putin’s high-profile allies to nine.
Wealthy politician Nikolay Petrunin – formerly a top gas industry executive, known as Russia's 'gas wonderkid' – reportedly died from complications linked to severe Covid, and had been in a coma for a month..
Petrunin, 47, was deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s powerful energy committee, and a Putin loyalist and “political prodigy”.
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His businesses built gas pipelines for major Russian energy operators and he had links to Kremlin gas behemoth Gazprom – now starving the West of Russian supplies over the war – and Rosneft.
He had been an MP in the Tula region since 2016, and was married to Albina Petrunina, a former policewoman holding the rank of major and they had three children together.
This week it also emerged that a leading judge, Sergey Maslov, 42, was killed at or near the epicentre of the Crimean Bridge blast.
He had overseen cases involving energy giant Gazprom and the Moscow city government at Moscow Arbitration Court.
There has been a spate of mysterious deaths associated with Gazprom and energy companies since the start of the war in Ukraine.
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On September 1, oil tycoon Ravil Maganov, 67, fell to his death from the sixth floor window of a Moscow hospital.
One report says the chairman of Lukoil – Russia’s second largest oil company – was “beaten” before he was “thrown out of a window”, however this was not confirmed officially.
His company had voiced opposition to the war in Ukraine.
Coincidentally, Putin arrived at the elite Central Clinical Hospital very soon after Maganov’s body was found to pay his last respects to final Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who had died at the hospital.
In July, Yuri Voronov, 61, head of a transport and logistics company for a Gazprom-linked company, was found dead in his swimming pool, with a leading friend who is a top criminologist warning of foul play.
Two more deaths of Gazprom-linked executives were reported in elite homes near St Petersburg amid suspicions that apparent suicides may have been murders.
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Alexander Tyulakov, 61, a senior Gazprom financial and security official at deputy general director level, was discovered dead by his lover the day after war started in Ukraine in February.
Tyulakov's death was recorded as a suicide but according to sources close the investigation he had been severely beaten before his death.
Leonid Shulman, 60, head of transport at Gazprom Invest, who lived in the same luxury housing development, was found dead a few weeks earlier with multiple stab wounds in a pool of blood on his bathroom floor.
Billionaire Alexander Subbotin, 43, also linked to Kremlin-friendly energy giant Lukoil where he was a top manager, was found dead in May after “taking advice from shamans”.
One theory is that Subbotin – who also owned a shipping company – was poisoned by toad venom triggering a heart attack.
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In April, wealthy Vladislav Avayev, 51, a former Kremlin official, appeared to have taken his own life after killing his wife Yelena, 47, and daughter, 13.
He had high level links to leading Russian financial institution Gazprombank.
Friends have disputed reports that he was jealous after his wife admitted she was pregnant by their driver.
There are claims he had access to the financial secrets of the Kremlin elite.
Several days later multimillionaire Sergey Protosenya, 55, was found hanged in Spain, after evidently killing with an axe his wife Natalia, 53, and their teenage daughter, Maria.
He was a former deputy chairman of Novatek, a company also closely linked to the Kremlin.
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There have also been questions over the death of Putin’s point man for developing Russia’s vast Arctic resources who “fell overboard” to his death from a boat sailing off the country’s Pacific coast.
Ivan Pechorin, 39, had recently attended a major conference hosted by the Kremlin warmonger in Vladivostok.
The high-flyer was managing director of Putin’s Far East and Arctic Development Corporation.
And in another case a mobile phone multi-millionaire and his wife were found stabbed to death in another case that has raised questions.
Yevgeny Palant, 47, and his wife Olga, 50, both Ukrainian-born, were found with multiple knife wounds by their daughter Polina, 20.
Immediate briefing to the media claimed the woman took her own life in a jealous rage after Palant said he was leaving her.
Yet this was strongly disputed by the couple’s best friend.
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