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It’s a bad time to be an energy-related Russian oligarch with yet another mysterious death.
The body of Igor Shkurko, age 49, was found in his cell yesterday in a Yakutsk detention center. Shkurko was the First Deputy General Director/Chief Engineer of the Russian energy company Yakutskenergo and had been accused of taking a £5,000 bribe—an allegation that Shkurko denied. Russian authorities have so far proffered no explanation for his death, although they stated that there were no signs of “criminal death.”
Shkurko was also a member of the Putin-affiliated United Russia political party, with his membership suspended following the bribery allegations.
Shkurko’s death is just one in a string of Russian oligarchs that have died under mysterious circumstances since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—many of them energy-related oligarchs.
In early 2022, Vladislav Avayev, former Kremlin official and vice president at Russian bank Gazprombank—the bank at the center of Russia’s rubles-for-gas payment scheme—was found dead in his Moscow apartment. Authorities said he killed his wife and daughter and then himself.
Days later, Novatek’s Sergey Protosenya and his family were found dead in Spain. Authorities said Protosenya hanged himself after stabbing his mother and daughter.
Leonid Shulman and Alexander Tyulyakov—former Gazprom executives—were also found dead in 2022. Both had left suicide notes.
In May, the death toll continued to mount with perhaps the strangest death yet, with former Lukoil board member and executive Alexandr Subbotin dying from cardiac arrest after allegedly willfully ingesting toad poison administered by a local shaman to alleviate a hangover.
Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Waford was also found hanged in March.
In September, Lukoil’s chairman Ravil Maganov died after falling out of his hospital window. A TASS news outlet source said that he took his own life by jumping out of the window.
To date, no official link has been found between these Russian energy oligarch deaths.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.