Russian Oligarchs Connected to Gas Giants Found Dead in Own Homes

Spanish officials are investigating the mysterious deaths of a Russian gas executive and his wife and daughter. The case evokes questions also because it’s not the first tragedy happened with the Russian official in gas sphere.  

Investigators are said to be working on the assumption that the former top manager of the Russia’s gas giant ‘NOVATEK’, Sergey Protosenya, 55, killed his wife and daughter with an axe and knife, before taking his own life in the courtyard of his Lloret de Mar villa on Spain’s Costa Brava, DailyMail reported.

Picture: EurasiaNet

Only the son of the millionaire remained alive, as he stayed in Bordeaux, France, where they all lived together most of the time. It was at the request of his son, who was alarmed by the sudden stop of communication with the rest of the family, that the police visited the villa. The doors were opened to the guards by a tenant of a neighboring house, to whom the owners left a spare set of keys in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Sergei’s wife and daughter were found dead in their beds, with stabbed and chopped wounds. The corpse of the head of the family was found outside the house, the man died of strangulation. A knife and an axe were found in the house, which, according to criminologists, could have been used to kill the millionaire’s wife and daughter.

However, local reports said evidence does not conclusively point towards this explanation, as no suicide note was found in the property, and it appeared steps had been taken to ensure there were no fingerprints on the murder weapons, RTVI reports.

Investigators are also confused by the fact that the businessman’s son does not have any data on family conflicts: he was genuinely excited that his relatives stopped contacting him suddenly. The last time he spoke to them on the phone was on Monday evening, April 18, and the next morning none of his relatives answered his calls anymore.

There are a number of clues that do not fit with the version of domestic violence. Protasenya’s wife and daughter, by all indications, were murdered in their sleep in their own beds. There was a lot of blood left at the crime scene, but no traces of it were found on the clothes and skin of the millionaire himself.

In addition, there are no fingerprints on the handles of the knife and axe used to kill the two women, which means that the killer acted with gloves. It is noted that investigators discovered blood-stained socks on the floor of the mother’s room, suggesting that the killer had put them on as gloves – possibly to avoid leaving fingerprints at the scene, or on the weapons.

“Given all the circumstances, the Spanish police are also forced to consider the version that there was a well-planned triple murder of Sergei Protosenya’s family, disguised as an act of family violence followed by suicide,” El Punt Avui writes.

The investigation places the greatest hopes on analyzing the contents of the victims’ smartphones: it is assumed that data on their calls, network activity and correspondence will determine whether there are grounds to consider what happened as an “act of family violence.” Recordings of surveillance cameras installed near the villa are also being studied.

The bodies of the trio were found on Tuesday, April 19, just one day after another Russian multimillionaire was found dead with his wife and daughter in their Moscow flat, in another apparent murder suicide involving a gun.

Picture: Kommersant

Alongside the body of multimillionaire and the former Vice President of Gazprombank, Vladislav Avayev, 51, was his wife Elena, 47, and younger daughter Maria, 13. The bodies, all with gunshot wounds, were found by the couple’s adult daughter Anastasia on Monday, April 18.

This case was a bit different. According to the preliminary version of the metropolitan department of the Investigative Committee, Avaev killed his wife and daughter, after which he committed suicide. On the morning of April 18, he called his personal driver and asked to pick him up, but did not open the door. The driver called the businessman’s eldest daughter, who arrived at the flat and found the bodies of her relatives. The head of the family allegedly had a gun in his hand. A neighbor said, he heard three shots, a woman screaming, and then two more shots.

The reason for the murder could be Elena’s pregnancy from another man (she was five months pregnant), as the 112 Telegram channel claimed. It also became known that in 2021, a woman sued her husband because of disagreements about the upbringing of her younger daughter, but in December she withdrew the lawsuit.

In both cases, the men had connections to Russian gas companies – many of which have faced western sanctions since the start of the Russia’s special military operation.

Protosenya, who had a fortune of 400 million euro, was Deputy Chairman on the Board of Directors for natural gas company Novatek for seven years. Avayev was previously a vice president at Gazprombank, a bank that was created to work for Russian gas giant Gazprom, and had also been a Kremlin official. He previously worked as a high-flying executive at Gazprombank, a key part of Vladimir Putin‘s gas-for-roubles scheme to hit back at Western sanctions.

On the morning of February 25, 61-year-old Alexander Tyulyakov, Deputy General Director of Gazprom’s Unified Settlement Center for Corporate Security, was found dead in a cottage near St. Petersburg. Previously, he worked as Deputy General Director for Corporate Protection and Personnel Management of Gazprom Transgaz St. Petersburg, which was engaged in the export and transportation of fuel to several Russian regions, the Insider reports.

Нехороший поселок Самоубийство топ-менеджера «Газпрома» Александра Тюлякова — уже вторая за короткое время неестественная смерть в высшем руководстве главной «артерии страны»
Picture: Novaya Gazeta

The police have previously established that the man committed suicide. There was a note next to his body. The body of Tyulyakov was found by his girlfriend and her ex-husband.

In January, in the same village, Leonid Shulman, a 60-year-old top manager of Gazprom, who also previously worked at Gazprom Transgaz, committed suicide and left a suicide note. On January 30, his body was found in his bathroom, next to a knife and a note in which he reported unbearable pain. A man broke his leg some time ago after another holiday and wore an Ilizarov apparatus, which is used for bone fusion, Novaya Gazeta reports.

Топ-менеджера «Газпром инвеста» нашли мертвым в коттедже в Ленобласти — РБК
Picture: RBC

The contents of the note caused investigators to doubt its authenticity. It is unlikely that Shulman could not afford high-quality pain medication. But the fact that at the end of 2021, the Gazprom Security Service conducted an inspection in the transport department of its “daughter” company, suggested that the true causes of suicide may not be related to pain in a broken leg.

Both bodies were found in the village of Leninsky in the Vyborg district of the Leningrad region, which is considered the exclusive patrimony of Gazprom’s top management.

Ru-Main, 22.04.2022 

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