One of the few Russian oil executives to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion and ongoing war in Ukraine “died under mysterious circumstances” this week.
Ravil Maganov, the chairman of Russia’s second-largest oil producer Lukoil, died Thursday after he fell from a hospital window in Moscow. However, sources close to Maganov told Reuters “they did not believe he would have killed himself.”
Lukoil was one of the few Russian companies to call for a quick end to the war, issuing a statement shortly after Putin invaded Ukraine.
“The Board of Directors of LUKOIL expresses herewith its deepest concerns about the tragic events in Ukraine,” the company said. “Calling for the soonest termination of the armed conflict, we express our sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy. We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy.”
Lukoil issued a statement following Maganov’s death this week, saying he had “passed away following a severe illness.”
“LUKOIL’s many thousands of employees mourn deeply for this grievous loss and express their sincere condolences to Ravil Maganov’s family,” the company added.
Former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler said that Maganov’s death followed a “standard Russian intelligence playbook” of how Russia deals with problematic citizens.
“The ‘wet affairs’ are targeted assassinations,” Koffler said. “Russia and previously the former Soviet Union are known for orchestrating mysterious deaths of the Kremlin’s opponents. It’s done in various ways — shots in the back of the head, poisonings, forced suicides and other intricate forms of violent death. I have a whole section in my book describing this doctrine and with examples of high-profile cases.”
Koffler pointed out the fact that Russian media gave conflicting accounts of how Maganov died, arguing that it was an attempt by the government to muddy the waters and prevent people from discovering the truth.
“Interfax said he died, having fallen out of a window and Tass wrote that it was suicide,” Koffler said. “Yet another paper speculated that he was trying to go out of a balcony to get a smoke. The truth is these tactics are designed deliberately to be stealthy, so no investigator could identify foul play. They are usually deemed ‘tragic accidents.’ Also part of the doctrine.”
It wouldn’t be the first time one of Putin’s political opponents have died in mysterious or violent circumstances, and journalists who have looked into the Russian president’s past have met with similar fates.
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