Six prominent Russian oligarchs have died in suspected suicides this year

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Since the start of 2022, six prominent oligarchs have died in suspected suicides, with four happening since Vladimir Putin's brutal invasion of Ukraine began in late February with the leader's "special operation."

In a number of the high-profile cases the oligarchs' families have been murdered in what authorities are presuming are murder-suicides although foul play has not been ruled out.

An alarming number of high profile business men in Russia meet grizzly ends, either being assassinated, simply disappearing or being thrown in prison by Kremlin authorities.

Here are the six oligarchs who have died by suicide since the start of the year.

Sergey Protosenya

Millionaire was found by Spanish authorities on April 20 hanged outside a villa he was renting with his family.

His wife and 18-year-old daughter were found inside, stabbed to death in their beds.

Catalan police are still treating the deaths as a double murder-suicide.

But Mr Protosenya's son Fedor spoke out on Tuesday insisting that his dad was not a killer and could never harm his family.

The 22-year-old university student spoke after arriving at the Costa Brava resort of Lloret de Mar where his relatives were found dead at their holiday home on April 19.

"My father is not a killer. He loved my mother and especially Maria my sister," Fedor told Mail Online.

“She was his princess. He could never do anything to harm them. I don’t know what happened that night but I know that my dad did not hurt them.”

Vladislav Avayev

A day before the deaths of Protosenya and his family, Russian oligarch Vladislav Avayev was found dead in his Moscow apartment.

His body was found alongside that of his wife and 13-year-old daughter.

TASS, Russian state controlled media, cited a source in the police who said they are exploring murder-suicide as a cause.

Avayev, a former vice-president of Gazprombank and a Kremlin official before that, was found dead holding a gun.

Another Gazprombank vice-president, Igor Volobuev, questioned whether his apparent murder-suicide was staged or not.

“I think that this is a staging. Why? It is hard to say. Maybe he knew something and represented some kind of danger," he said.

  • One British national killed and one missing in Ukraine, confirms Foreign Office

Vasily Melnikov

Melnikov, alongside his wife and two young sons, died from stab wounds. The knives used in the killings were found at the crime scene last March, 2021, at their home in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

Investigators said the deaths were a result of a murder-suicide in which Melnikov killed his wife and 10-year-old and four-year-old sons before killing himself.

News 84 Media reported that Melnikov’s company Medstom, which imports medical equipment into Russia, was on the verge of collapse after western sanctions.

Mikhail Watford

In February, Ukrainian-born oligarch Mikhail Watford, who changed his surname from Tolstosheya, was found dead in the garage of his home in Surrey.

Watford was found hanged but his wife and children, who were home at the time, were not harmed.

The 66-year-old father-of-three made his millions from oil refineries in Ukraine and then from a successful property firm after he had moved to Britain.

Police said they are investigating his death with the "utmost seriousness" amid fears he may have been on a hit list.

A family friend said: “His state of mind might have been affected by the situation in the Ukraine."

Alexander Tyulyakov

Three days before Watford’s death and a day after Russia invaded Ukraine, Tyulyakov was also found hanged.

The deputy general director for Gazprom’s treasury department left a note, leading to the conclusion by local law enforcement that Tyulyakov died by suicide.

Tyulyakov, 61, had worked at Gazprom for around 10 years.

The neighbourhood where he was found was also the site of another suicide of a Gazprom boss.

Leonid Shulman

In the same Leninsky gated housing development in Leningrad region three weeks earlier, Leonid Shulman, 60, head of transport at Gazprom Invest, was found dead with multiple stab wounds in a pool of blood on his bathroom floor.

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The contents of a note which were found have not been disclosed, and the Russian Investigative Committee reportedly refused to discuss the deaths.

Some reports suggest that in the note, Shulman complained about an unbearable pain in his leg, which he had injured.

According to Fortune, Shulman was in the midst of being investigated for fraud at Gazprom.

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