Calls from CNN to Gazprom went unanswered.
On January 30, 2022, one of the top managers of Gazprom was found dead in his cottage in the village of Leninsky near Leningrad, Russian state media reported RIA Novosti.
RIA reported that a suicide note was found at the scene and that investigators were investigating the death as a suicide. The Russian national television and radio company RenTV identified the man as Leonid Shulman, head of the transport department of Gazprom Invest.
Just a month after that, another top manager of Gazprom was found dead in the same village. Alexander Tyulakov was found dead in his garage on February 25, according to Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper. Novaya Gazeta reported that he committed suicide.
CNN reached out to Russia’s Investigative Committee for comment on the two cases, but received no response.
Mikhail Watford, a Ukrainian-born Russian billionaire, was found dead at his home in the English county of Surrey on February 28.
Surrey police told CNN the death is being investigated by a coroner who said a hearing would take place on July 29.
Another Russian businessman, Vasily Melnikov, was found dead with his family in Nizhny Novgorod at the end of March, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant.
Melnikov owned the MedStom company, which produced medical products. On March 23, stab wounds were found on a 43-year-old man, his 41-year-old wife, and two children aged 4 and 10, according to the Russian Investigative Committee.
The committee did not name Melnikov, but the age of the dead and the location of the incident correspond to Kommersant’s report.
The regional branch of the Investigative Committee did not update the status of its investigation and did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. At the time of the incident, in March, it was reported that “there were no signs of unauthorized entry into the apartment”, and “knives were found and seized.”
“[Investigators] consider several versions of what happened, including the murder of children and wife by the head of the family, followed by suicide,” the committee said.
And earlier this month, two more Russian businessmen died in apparent cases of murder and suicide.
Former Gazprombank vice president Vladislav Avaev was found dead with his wife and daughter in his Moscow apartment on April 18, Russian state news agency TASS reported.
Citing a law enforcement source, TASS said authorities were investigating the Avayevs’ death as a murder-suicide.
Yulia Ivanova, spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee for Moscow, told TASS that a relative discovered the bodies of the Avaevs after the family’s driver and nanny said they could not contact them by phone or get into the apartment. because the door was locked from the inside.
Igor Volobuev, a former Gazprombank vice president who recently left Russia for Ukraine, told CNN he doesn’t believe Avaev committed suicide.
“His job was to do private banking, that is, to deal with VIP clients. He handled very large sums of money. So he committed suicide? I do not think so. represented a certain risk,” Volobuev told CNN.
Just a day later, on April 19, Sergey Protosenya, the former head of the gas company Novatek, partly owned by Gazprom, was found dead north of Barcelona. The bodies of his wife and daughter were found nearby, an official source close to the investigation told CNN last week.
Protesenia, his wife and daughter were found at their home in Lloret de Mar, a Mediterranean resort near Barcelona.
According to the source, the bodies of two women with signs of violence were found in the luxurious family home, while the body of Protoseniya was found in the garden outside. The case is being investigated as a double homicide and subsequent domestic violence suicide.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Protosenia’s son questioned the version of events, suggesting that his father was killed instead.
“He loved my mother and especially Maria, my sister. She was his princess. He could never do anything to hurt them. I don’t know what happened that night, but I know that my dad didn’t harm them,” said Fyodor Protosenya, who was at the family’s home in France at the time of the incident.
Catalan police in the province of Girona, where the city of Lloret de Mar is located, told CNN on Friday that “the hypothesis continues to be a case of domestic violence, despite the son’s claims.”
“The Catalan police took a statement from my son. Other hypotheses were excluded. A triple homicide has also been ruled out,” a police spokesman told CNN.
“What is the work of the Russian mafia? Well, no,” the official added.
Novatek, Protoseni’s former employer, said he was “a wonderful person and a great family man.”
“Unfortunately, there were speculations in the media on this topic, but we are convinced that these speculations are not related to reality. We hope that the Spanish law enforcement authorities will conduct a thorough and objective investigation and sort out what happened,” the company said in a statement.
How to get help: In the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide can also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.
This story was supplemented by the correct spelling of Michael Watford’s last name.
Zahid Mahmood and Al Goodman of CNN provided reporting.