Authorities in Russia and Spain are investigating the deaths of two Russian oligarchs who died one day apart alongside their wives and children.
Police departments in both countries where the bodies were found are speculating that the deaths were the product of a murder-suicide incident. In Spain, Russian oligarch Sergey Protosenya, 55, was found dead just out side their Catalan villa. His wife Natalia, 53, and daughter, 18, were found dead in their respective beds and covered in axe wounds. But Spanish authorities have not ruled out the possibility that Protosenya and his family were victims of an outside party who murdered them all and then staged the crime scene.
They had not brought the couple’s other child, who had remained in France while the alleged incident took place. The villa on Spain’s Costa Brava is believed to be the family’s second home to their residence in France. Protosenya, who is thought to have amassed a worth of over £333million, reportedly attacked his spouse and teenage daughter at the property after they travelled to the coast for Easter, Spanish outlet Telecinco reports. Telecinco described how local police, Mossos d’Esquadra, turned up at the villa after Protosenya’s teenage son, who had not joined the family on holiday but remained in France, alerted authorities on Tuesday.
Yesterday, oligarch Vladislav Avayev, 51, his wife Yelena, 47, and his daughter, 18, were all found dead in their luxurious Moscow apartment. The three had suffered gunshot wounds. Russian police, like their Spanish counterparts, have suggested that these deaths might also be attributed to a murder-suicide but that they are considering every other possibility that could have made Avayev a target.
The bodies of Vladislav Avayev, 51, his ‘pregnant’ wife Yelena, 47, and their daughter Maria, 13, were found dead with gunshot wounds on Monday, according to Russian state media outlets. The couple’s eldest daughter Annastasia, 26, reportedly made the grim discovery after she was unable to get in contact with her family. Initial reports suggest Mr Avayev shot his family before he turned the gun on himself, but Russian police say they will investigate any potential links to his work and personal life.
Western media outlets have attempted to claim that Avayev murdered his wife after finding out the 47-year-old was pregnant with another man’s child. While this is a possibility, her age would suggest that it is rather unlikely.
What is intriguing and warrants investigation, however, is how remarkably similar these incidents are. Both were found dead with their families but are survived by their eldest child. That child alerted authorities after being unable to reach their parents. But perhaps the most salient similarity is the industry both men worked. Protosenya was the former chief accountant of Novatek and a former member of its board of directors. The company is the largest natural gas producer that isn’t directly controlled by the Russian government. Avayev was a former vice president of Gazprombank, which as the name might suggest, manages the pension fund for Gazprom, the largest state-owned energy corporation in the world and the largest natural gas company in the world. In other words, both of these men were intimately connected to the financing of Russia’s energy industry.
Gazprom holds almost 10% of Novatek’s stock.
Without speculating as to whether there is any concrete connection between these deaths, it may be worth mentioning that a third Russian oligarch related to the energy industry, Vagit Alekperov, stepped down from his position as president and chairman of LUKoil. LUKoil is Russia’s second-largest company after Gazprom. All three men are purported to be allies of Vladimir Putin.