The five clues that suggest four Russian oligarchs were 'all murdered as Putin purges inner circle'
QUESTION marks hang over whether four Russian oligarchs were murdered as fears Vladimir Putin is purging his inner circle escalate.
Since the start of the year – in the run-up to the war in Ukraine and since the start of the invasion – four gas industry executives linked to the tyrant are alleged to have taken their own lives.
But sources believe they may have actually been murdered as it's claimed there were similarities in the deaths of top managers and their families from senior gas companies.
On February 25- the day after Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine – the body of Alexander Tyulakov, a senior Gazprom financial and security official at the deputy general director level, was discovered by his lover.
The 61-year-old's neck was in a noose in his £500,000 home.
Just three weeks prior in the same elite Leninsky gated housing development in the Leningrad region, Leonid Shulman, head of transport at Gazprom Invest, was found dead.
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The 60-year-old was discovered with multiple stab wounds in a pool of blood on his bathroom floor.
Meanwhile, wealthy Vladislav Avayev, 51, an ex-vice-president of Gazprombank and former Kremlin official, was found shot dead in his elite Moscow penthouse.
And days later, Sergey Protosenya, 55 – a former deputy chairman of Novotek, a company closely linked to the Kremlin – was found dead by hanging in Spain.
Here are five clues which suggest the four may have been murdered amid fears Putin is purging his inner circle as his invasion of Ukraine continues to stall.
'SIMILARITIES' IN DEATHS
The four alleged suicides have all been labelled as "suspicious" by Russian sources – including a former FSB colonel on the Telegram messaging channel.
Writing on Mozhem Obyasnit – which means We Can Explain – Gennady Gudkov claimed there were similarities in the passing of top managers and their families from senior gas companies.
He claimed: "Don't let the 'rats' escape, they might talk.
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“If we already understand that the regime is engaged in the elimination of its opponents and enemies, then why will they not deal with those who are considered traitors who have fled the system.
"Many cases of [suspicious deaths] are like settling scores.”
FAMILIES FOUND DEAD
In the two most recent macabre incidents, the families of the two oligarchs have been killed – raising suspicions that the "suicides" were staged.
Vladislav Avayev, 51, was found shot dead along with his wife Yelena, 47, and his 13-year-old daughter Maria at their home in Moscow.
The bodies were discovered by Avayecv's eldest daughter Anastasia, 26, alongside a total of 13 different weapons.
A law enforcement source said that a gun was found in Avayev's hand.
Kremlin analyst Olga Lautman said that Avayev previously worked in Putin's presidential administration, as well as in the parliament, or Duma.
Meanwhile, in a chilling echo of Avayev's death, Russian tycoon Sergey Protosenya, 55, his wife Natalya, 53, and his 18-year-old daughter Maria were discovered dead at their luxury Spanish villa.
Protosenya, who boasted a fortune of over £333million, did not leave a suicide note before allegedly hanging himself in the courtyard.
Natalia and Maria had been hacked to death in their beds with an axe in the Lloret de Mar on Spain’s Costa Brava, according to reports.
Police found the gruesome scene after the couple's teenage son, who was in France at the time, raised concerns.
Alleged inconsistencies at the crime scene and the coincidental death of two gas oligarchs and their families in a matter of days have raised suspicions.
OLIGARCH 'BADLY BEATEN' BEFORE DEATH
Just one day after Putin invaded Ukraine, the body of Gazprom deputy general director Alexander Tyulakov was found.
His hung body was discovered by his lover in his £500,000 home in Leningrad.
But according to reports, he had been badly beaten before he died – raising speculation over how he died.
KNIFE 'OUT OF REACH'
In the same gated housing development in the Leningrad region, Leonid Shulman – head of transport at Gazprom Invest – was found dead on January 29.
He was discovered with multiple stab wounds in a pool of blood on his bathroom floor.
A note was found, the contents of which have not been disclosed, and the Russian Investigative Committee reportedly refused to discuss the deaths.
It's reported a knife was found in the bathtub, seemingly out of reach.
'LINKS TO KREMLIN'
Suspicions have been raised over the four death as they come amid a shake-up in ownership in Russian business – where hidden and surrogate holders are common – triggered by Western sanctions which have frozen many fortunes.
Engineer and economist Protosenya had been chief accountant of Novatek company, the largest independent producer of natural gas in Russia, between 2002 and 2014, and later vice president.
He had a fortune of $440 million, it is claimed.
Novatek is co-owned by close Putin friend Gennady Timchenko and the privileged giant had been recently excluded from the Kremlin leader’s edict to trade energy only in rubles.
The company is also closely linked to Pyotr Kolbin, a Putin childhood friend, allegedly a “shadow holder of Putin's wealth”.
Avayev’s former employer Gazprombank is also seen as close to Putin's circle – and is allegedly used by the president and his relatives and cronies.
Gazprombank was chosen by Putin as authorised to receive Western payments for gas in rubles.
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Alayev – who mysteriously owned a KGB-FSB gun found after the shooting – evidently had a joint venture business on leaving Gazprombank with a daughter of a high-level executive of Rostec, another Putin favourite.
“So, under strange and similar circumstances, the families of managers of two key private companies managing the money of Putin's entourage died,” stated Mozhem Obyasnit.
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