A top Russian oil executive died under mysterious circumstances this week after criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Ravil Maganov, the chairman of Russia’s second-largest oil producer Lukoil, died Thursday after he fell from a hospital window in Moscow.
Sources close to Maganov told Reuters they believed it was highly unlikely he killed himself.
Lukoil issued a statement shortly after Putin invaded Ukraine in which the company called for a quick end to the war, one of the few Russian companies to do so.
“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 to how Russian media gave conflicting accounts of what happened as evidence that the government was trying to muddy the waters to prevent anyone 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.”
Several Russian doctors died during the coronavirus pandemic after falling out of windows. Russia was widely accused of lying about the official number of coronavirus deaths that the country experienced.