The mysterious death of Viatcheslav Rovneiko, a Russian oil magnate and former KGB spy who was close to Vladimir Putin’s foreign intelligence chief, has added to a growing list of high-profile Kremlin figures to die under suspicious circumstances in recent years. Rovneiko was found unconscious late at night at his home in an elite gated village near Moscow, and doctors were unable to save him.
Rovneiko was a Cold War era KGB spy and had close ties to billionaire Gennady Timchenko, seen as one of Putin’s most loyal oligarchs. He also had business interests linked to Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Cyprus, and was a graduate of Moscow’s prestigious Institute of International Relations [MGIMO].
Dozens of Russian businessmen have died since the start of 2022 in unexplained circumstances. This includes the editor of a popular Russian propaganda magazine, the vice-president of Gazprombank, a senior Gazprom official, Dmitry Zelenov, a real estate tycoon, and Anatoly Gerashchenko, the former head of Moscow’s Aviation Institute.
The death of Ivan Pechorin, Putin’s point man for developing Russia’s vast Arctic resources, and the sudden death of Igor Nosov, the former CEO of Putin’s Far East and Arctic Development Corporation, have also raised questions. The death of Ravil Maganov, the chairman of Lukoil, shortly before Putin arrived at the elite Central Clinical Hospital to pay his last respects to Mikhail Gorbachev, has added to the speculation.
The circumstances surrounding these deaths remain unclear, and it is not yet known if they are linked in any way. However, the sheer number of unexplained deaths of people with close ties to Putin’s regime has raised serious concerns.