Why do many rich and powerful Russians “love” falling from windows to their death?


16 February 2023: Latest death. Marina Yankina fell. What number is she?


ian bremmer @ianbremmer



Russian businessmen keep dying. No one knows why.

Three theories for a mysterious string of deaths in Putin’s Russia.

By Cameron Peters@jcameronpeters Oct 14, 2022, 7:00am EDT

It’s a rough year to be a high-profile Russian: After nearly eight months of war in Ukraine, the Russian military is reeling and on its back foot; sanctions continue to squeeze the country’s economy and elite— and at least 15 Russian businessmen and executives have died in apparent accidents or by suicide, including a number of Putin allies.

The victims range from an executive with Gazprom, a major state-owned oil company, to the managing director of a state-run development corporation. The causes of death range from unremarkable — a stroke, for example — to lurid, such as death by toad poison in a shaman’s basement.

Combined, the sheer number of deaths, as well as the prominence of the dead and a long history of suspicious demises in Putin’s Russia, have raised questions about whether something other than ordinary bad luck is at fault.

So what really happened?

The short answer is we don’t know — the deaths are strange on their own and outright suspicious as a cluster, but the throughline, if there is one, remains a mystery. That being said, there are a few possible explanations.

Suicide and accident — really

According to the experts I spoke with, the sheer volume of accidental deaths and suicides so far is enough to mean that this is unlikely to be the true explanation in every case. It’s not impossible, however;sometimes a suicide is just a suicide and an accident is just an accident, no matter how odd.

The long arm of the Kremlin

One of the most dramatic and often-speculated-about explanations is that the deaths are really killings — carried out at the order of the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As Bill Browder, a onetime investor in Russia turned Kremlin critic, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) this month, “when people of all the same industry die that way, it looks to me like what I would call an epidemic of murder.”

According to ABC’s Samantha Hawley and Flint Duxfield, Browder “told the ABC News Daily podcast he had little doubt the deaths of the Russian oligarchs — predominantly from the oil and gas sector — have come at the orders of the Kremlin.”

Internal business pressures turned deadly

That leaves a third theory, one that both Taylor and Rutland indicate is far more likely than either a Kremlin-directed campaign of assassinations or a spate of genuine accidents and suicides.

Specifically, the recent run of deaths among Russia’s business elite could well be disguised killings — but the killings may be a product of Russia’s tangled political and economic structures, which are newly under pressure from Russia’s war in Ukraine, more than of any specific, overarching agenda.

According to Taylor, the deaths could have more to do with “shady business, attempt to cover tracks, attempt to wipe out a competitor, trying to maybe get rid of someone who’s inconvenient at a time when there’s a lot of pressure on state-affiliated companies, especially in the oil and gas sector, but also in the defense sector.”

Markus agrees, noting in an email that “there are competing influential clans” within the Russian state “that span state institutions and private or state-owned firms.”

Significantly, both Taylor and Rutland emphasize that there’s still a great deal of uncertainty around the deaths. However, under the third and, according to them, more likely theory, continued pressure on Russia’s economy could well accelerate the trend.

Violence as a way of doing business has been “deeply normalized going back to the 1990s,” Rutland said. “And so as the regime enters what could be its death throes, or certainly it’s under huge pressure, you can imagine that there’s gonna be this — well, it’s not yet a bloodbath, but you can imagine that the faction fighting will get even more desperate.”

There are no satisfying answers to be had, at least for now. Recent history supports the idea that such deaths are something Putin would be fully capable of, but he lacks a clear motive that connects them all; as some close Russia watchers have observed, Russia’s cutthroat business culture is at least equally likely to be culpable as a repressive Kremlin. In both cases, there’s a distinct dearth of evidence — but the speculation only underscores the overlapping brutality of Russian business and Putin’s regime.








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1 Response to Why do many rich and powerful Russians “love” falling from windows to their death?

  1. E Lye says:

    Copycat. Wisma Masalam.

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