Two Russian oligarchs were found dead along with their families within 24 hours, the latest in a string of deaths among Russia’s super-rich since the start of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The bullet-riddled bodies of banking tycoon Vladislav Avayev and his wife and daughter have been discovered in the Russian capital of Moscow. Less than a day later, gas executive Sergei Protosenya was found hanged in Spain with his wife and daughter stabbed to death.
THE MYSTERY OF THE LOCKED ROOM
Vladislav Avayev, the former deputy chairman of Gazprombank, his wife Yelena and their 13-year-old daughter Maria were found shot to death in their multi-million dollar apartment in Moscow on Monday.
Their bodies were discovered by Avayev’s eldest daughter, Annastasia, who said she became concerned after not being able to contact them for the past few days.
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Police have reportedly said their main theory is that Avayev shot his wife and daughter, and then himself. The murder-suicide theory is based on the fact that the oligarch’s apartment, located on the 14th floor, was locked from the inside.
Notably, Avayev also had a role in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin administration, where he was head of a key department.
WAS THERE DIRTY PLAY?
The body of Sergey Protosenya, a former top manager of the major Russian gas company Novatek, was found along with those of his wife and daughter on Tuesday in a rented villa in Spain, where the family was spending the Easter holidays.
The 55-year-old Russian oligarch was found hanged in the garden of the villa in Lloret de Mar by the Spanish police, while his wife and daughter were hacked to death in their beds. According to local Spanish media reports, an ax and a knife were found next to Protosenya’s body.
Police were alerted to the deaths when Protosenya’s son, who was in France, raised the alarm after no one answered the phone. When the policemen went to make a control, they found the body of the oligarch outside the village.
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Police are investigating two possible scenarios: either Protosenya killed his wife and daughter and then hanged himself, or the entire family was killed and the crime scene was staged to look like a murder-suicide.
Surprisingly, no bloodstains were seen on Protosenya’s body. At the same time, investigators found the blood-stained socks apparently used as makeshift gloves to avoid fingerprints on the murder weapons: an ax and a knife.
The gruesome deaths have triggered a police investigation, with investigators looking at all angles, including suicide or foul play. They are also investigating whether the two millionaires were in contact before their untimely death.
MYSTERIOUS DEATH SERIES
Interestingly, the bloody deaths of Protosenya and Avayev are not the first. Quite a few Russian oligarchs have been found dead in mysterious circumstances in recent months.
On February 25, a day after Russia launched its “special military operation in Ukraine,” Gazprom’s top executive, Alexander Tyulyakov, was found hanged in a cabin near St. Petersburg. The police recovered a note next to his body, which led them to believe that the oligarch had committed suicide.
Ukrainian-born Russian tycoon Mikhail Watford, who made his fortune in oil and gas, was found dead at his home in Surrey, Britain, on February 28. His body was found on a rope in the garage of his house by his gardener.
On March 24, the Russian media reported the death of billionaire Vasily Melnikov, his wife and two children in their luxury apartment in Nizhny Novgorod. All had died from stab wounds and the knives used for the murders were found at the crime scene.