Mystery of wealthy Russian's 'toad toxin' death

Latest in string of deaths of executives linked to Russian oil and gas in recent months

Alexander Subbotin, a former executive for the energy giant Lukoil, reportedly died after treatment by a mystic healer. EPA

Mystery surrounded the fate of a wealthy Russian businessman on Monday amid claims by an online media outlet that he died after a mystic healer used toxin from a toad for a traditional treatment.

The Russian Telegram news channel Mash said that Alexander Subbotin, a former executive for the energy giant Lukoil, died after the treatment by a shaman in the Moscow suburb of Mytishchi.

Mash said that Mr Subbotin felt unwell and went to lie down after the treatment but was later found dead.

The reports, which have not been verified, follow a string of other deaths involving wealthy Russians linked to the oil and gas sector in recent months, some with close ties to the country’s leadership.

Two wealthy businessman and members of their families were found dead in Spain’s Costa Brava and in Moscow last month after what initially appeared to be murder-suicides.

Sergey Protosenya, a former executive at the natural gas company Novotek with a multi-million-dollar fortune, was found hanged at a Spanish villa, where his wife and daughter were also found dead with stab wounds.

Spanish police are working on a theory that Mr Protosenya killed his wife and daughter before killing himself, according to media reports.

The bodies were discovered a day after the bodies of Vladislav Avayev, his wife and 13-year-old daughter were found in their Moscow flat. Mr Avayev had worked as a senior official at Gazprombank, a bank that served Gazprom, the gas giant.

Another Russian oil and gas tycoon was found dead at his £18 million ($24m) home in the UK after he was hit hard by the invasion of Ukraine in February.

Mikhail Watford, 66, a father of three, made his fortune through oil and gas from the former Soviet republic, before establishing a property company in Britain. He is believed to have been born in Ukraine and held a Russian passport.

British police said there were not believed to be any suspicious circumstances.

But the cases cast new light on other deaths of other executives before Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

Leonid Schulman, 60, a senior manager at Gazprom, reportedly killed himself in January at his home in the Leningrad district of Russia.

The following month a former manager at the energy giant, Alexander Tyulyakov, was found dead at his home in St Petersburg, state-owned German news outlet Deutsche Welle reported.

Updated: May 09, 2022, 4:56 PM
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