Russian Officials Are Dropping Like Flies: 9 Deaths Since November 2016

Russian Officials Are Dropping Like Flies: 9 Deaths Since November 2016

Since election day 2016 at least 9 Russian politicians, diplomats or officers have died under suspicious circumstances. Some cases seem likely to be politically motivated assassinations, while others seem more benign. Most likely the deaths are a mixture of assassinations and natural causes. What does seem highly unusual is the number of deaths in a short time period. The causes of death are a mixture of gun shot wounds, accidents and heart problems. Note that thanks to a 1975 congressional inquiry by Senator Frank Church and video footage of congressional testimony, we know that technology for a 'heart-attack' gun exists at least in U.S. hands.

1. Sergei Krivov, died 11/8/2016.

The Russian Consulate at 11 E. 91st St. in New York City on Feb. 6, 2017. Ben King / BuzzFeed News

Krivov was found just before 7 a.m. on Election Day, lying on the floor of the Russian Consulate on the Upper East Side. Who he was and how he died is still unclear.

English-language news reports said Krivov was a security officer. But a November report from Sputnik, the English-language Russian media outlet, says he was a consular duty commander, which would give him access to a top secret coding device.

The Russian consulate originally said Krivov fell to his death from the roof, but then changed their story to death by heart attack. However, on the day of his death the NYPD reported Krivov was found dead with a head wound. The Manhattan medical examiner ruled Krivov died due to internal bleeding related to a tumor and found no evidence of head trauma.

Krivov’s address is also mysterious. His address, listed in the NYPD’s files, at 11 E. 90th St., wasn’t a residence. It’s a Smithsonian-owned office building. The NYPD insisted that 11 E. 90th St. was the address they had been given for Krivov, apparently by Russian consular officials. Additionally Krivov was described as a Manhattan resident though there is no trace of Krivov in public records.

2. Yves Chandelon, died 12/12/16.

Yves Chandelon
Yves Chandelon

Chandelon, a 62 year old auditor general for NATO was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in his car. As part of his job, Chandelon investigated the funding of terrorist organizations. The medical examiner ruled his death a suicide but his family raised many suspicions. One, Chandelon was the registered owner of three guns but the gun found in the car was not his. Two, local media reported Chandelon had the gun in his right hand despite being left handed. Three, Chandelon also possibly told family members that he felt threatened and received strange phone calls. However, it’s also reported that a suicide note was found in the glove box believed to be in Chandelon’s handwriting.

3. Andrei Karlov, died 12/19/2016.

Andrey Karlov
Andrey Karlov

Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, was killed while giving a speech at an art gallery in Turkey by a 22-year-old off-duty Turkish police officer. The assailant was dressed in a suit and tie and calmly fired point-blank at Karlov while he spoke to journalists. A video of the attack shows the assassin yelling “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” and “Allahu Akbar” after killing Karlov. The assassin was able to gain entrance to the event by showing his Turkish police ID. Motive behind the attacks is disputed. Some blame Islamic extremism and anger over Russia’s role in Syria. However, Russian politicians have blamed the attack on NATO and ‘The West’, accusing them of orchestrating a false flag attack to  ruin Turkey-Russia relations.

4. Petr Polshikov, died 12/19/2016.

Petr Polshikov

On the same day as Andrei Karlov’s assassination in Turkey, Polshikov was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head in his home in Moscow. Polshikov is reported to have been a senior figure in the Latin American department of Russian foreign ministry. According to the Moscow newspaper, Moskovskij Komsomolets, Polshikov’s wife found him in their bedroom with a pillow over his head. A spokesman from the Russian Foreign Ministry said Polshikov’s death was likely an accident and had nothing to do with his official government duties.

5. Oleg Erovinkin, died 12/26/16.

The ex-KGB Chief Oleg Erovinkin was found dead in Moscow in the back of his Lexus from a supposed heart attack. Erovinkin was the top subordinate of Igor Sechin, an oligarch who runs Russia’s state owned Roseneft oil company. Sechin is named throughout the Trump-Russia ‘Golden Showers’ dossier written by MI6 agent, Christpher Steele. Erovinkin is believed to have been Sechin’s liaison with Putin and a key source in the dossier. Considering the ties to the Trump dossier many question the heart attack cause of death story.

6. Andray Malanin, died 1/9/17.

Andrei Malanin's Greek Apartment Complex
Andrei Malanin's Greek Apartment Complex

Malanin, a senior diplomat at the Russian embassy in Greece, was found dead in early January. Initial reports from Greek police suggested Malanin died suddenly from natural causes. Malanin was found on the floor of his bedroom by a member of the embassy’s staff with no evidence of a break-in, an official said on condition of anonymity. Two Greek police officials said foul play was not suspected. An investigation remains underway.

7. Alexander Kadakin, died 1/26/17.

Alexander Kadakin
Alexander Kadakin

Alexander Kadakin, 67, the Russian ambassador to India, died on January 26 in Delhi. A spokeswoman for the Russian embassy in New Delhi said that Kadakin died after a short illness and that there was nothing “special or extraordinary” about the circumstances that led to his death. Kadakin is believed to have died from heart failure. No further information is known.

8. Vitaly Churkin, died 2/20/17.

Vitaly Churkin
Vitaly Churkin

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations died suddenly at age 64 in New York. Local law enforcement claimed he died of cardiac arrest while at the Russian Mission on East 67th Street. However, medical examiners performing his autopsy said that more tests were needed to determine how and why he fell ill in his office and later died in a hospital. Further testing usually involves toxicology reports as well as other tests. Weeks later the U.S. State Department instructed the NYC’s chief medical examiner to not publicly disclose Churkin’s manner of death. The State Departmnet claimed Churkin’s diplomatic immunity survived his death and that Russian officials had already complained about the disclosing of details related to Churkin’s death.

9. Denis Voronenkov, died 3/23/17.

Denis Voronenkov
Denis Voronenkov

Voronenkov and his wife were former Russian parliamentary members who had fled to Ukraine after speaking out against Putin and Kremlin policies. Denis Voronenkov was shot while walking down a street in broad daylight. He was hit three or four times in the head and neck outside of the Premier Palace Hotel. Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, quickly pointed the finger at Russian authorities, calling the killing an act of “state terrorism”. Veronenkov is reported to have told friends he was receiving threats from the FSB, Russia’s modern day version of the KGB. He was also set to give testimony in a court case regarding Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine.

Honorable Mentions:

Sergei Mikhailov, presumed alive.

The FSB headquarters (right) in Moscow
The FSB headquarters (right) in Moscow

During a meeting of top FSB officials, a bag was placed over Mikhailov’s head and he was marched out of the room under accusation of treason. Mikhailov served in the FSB’s cyber intelligence division. Also arrested in connection with Mikhailov is his deputy, Dmitry Dokuchayev. Dokuchayev is a well-known Russian hacker who went by the nickname Forb, and began working for the FSB some years ago to evade jail for his hacking activities. The Russian news agency, Interfax reported the treason charges Mikhailov and Dokuchayev face are for betraying their oath and working with the CIA. American officials have accused the FSB of hacking the 2016 election. The current status of Mikhailov, Dokuchayev, and the handful of others also arrested is unknown.

Mikhail Lesin, died 11/5/2015.

Mikhail Lesin
Mikhail Lesin

Leslin was found dead in his Washington DC hotel room with no signs of forced entry. He was last seen returning to his hotel room around 11AM the morning before his body was found. His body showed multiple blunt force injuries to the head, neck, torso, arms and legs. The NY Times reported an anonymous official stated the injuries were due to an altercation Lesin had before he returned to his room. Also according to the NY Times, video footage at the hotel shows Leslin returning to his room in a disheveled state. After a year-long investigation Washington DC’s chief medical examiner reported Leslin died due to injuries sustained in his room, while alone, induced by falls resulting from days of excessive alcohol consumption. Lesin was minister of press in Russia and in 2005 started Russia Today (RT), Russia’s first all English news station. Russian officials originally declared Lesin’s death a heart attack.

Nikolai Gorokhov, presumed alive.

Nikolai Gorokhov
Nikolai Gorokhov

Gorokhov either fell from a 4th story window while helping movers carry a hot tub into his apartment or was thrown out the window. Luckily, he survived and is expected to make a full recovery. Gorokhov’s mysterious fall took place one day before he was due to testify in a Moscow Court regarding the Magnitsky case, a case which unearthed a $230 million tax fraud perpetrated against the Russian people. In another twist, Gorokhov was also a key witness in a related U.S. case against Prevezon Holdings. That suit was filed by US Attorney Preet Bharara, who was controversially fired by Jeff Sessions under Trump in early 2017. The U.S. suit alleges the Russian tax scheme, which Magnitsky unearthed, laundered money through the United States and in particular through NYC real estate. The American suit was settled out of court, without Prevezon admitting any guilt and without any of the evidence in the case coming to light. Gorokhov’s current status is unknown.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, survived two poisoning attempts.

Vladimir Kara-Murza
Vladimir Kara-Murza

Kara-Murza is Russian activist who opposes the Russian government. He is chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and coordinator of the Open Russia Foundation, which promotes civil society and democracy. In February of 2017 he was in Russia promoting a documentary about his friend, Boris Nemtsov, an activist that was shot and killed in Russia. While there, he suddenly fell ill and was put in a medically induced coma and on life support in a Russian hospital. Kara-Murza’s condition is similar to 2015 when he almost died from sudden kidney failure in a suspected poisoning in Moscow. Both sudden illnesses are suspected poisonings. Fortunately, Kara-Murza survived both times, unlike Alexander Litvinenko who died in November of 2006 from suspected tea poisoning.

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