(NewsNation) — A critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the chairman of Russia’s largest private oil company allegedly fell out a hospital window to his death Thursday, according to Russian news outlets.
Lukoil chairman Ravil Maganov, 67, is now just the latest Putin critic to die under mysterious circumstances.
“This is a really ham-fisted way to intimidate the opposition, to make sure everyone knows that anyone who even thinks about speaking out against the regime, against the war in Ukraine, is going to come to an untimely death,” Russia expert Dmitri Alperovitch said Thursday on NewsNation’s “On Balance With Leland Vittert.”
The state news agency Tass cited an unnamed law enforcement source as saying Maganov committed suicide while being treated at Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow. The report said he had been admitted there for a heart attack and was taking antidepressants.
A Lukoil statement Thursday said Maganov “passed away after a severe illness” but did not give details.
Alperovitch said the death of Maganov, a Russian oligarch, speaks to the West’s misunderstanding of the power dynamics in Russia.
“Putin controls the oligarchs, they don’t control him,” Alperovitch said. “They dance to his tune and if they don’t they end up dead.”
Three sources told Reuters that, based on their close acquaintance with Maganov, they did not believe he would have killed himself.
Another source close to the company said there was a belief inside Lukoil management that he had committed suicide, but the source had not seen evidence or documents to support that.
Lukoil was one of the few Russian companies to publicly censure Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, calling in March for the “immediate cessation of the armed conflict.”
Maganov is the latest in a series of Russian businessmen, particularly in the energy industry, who have died suddenly in unclear circumstances this year.
His body was found on the grounds of the hospital, where Russia’s political and business elite are often treated, the reports said.
At least seven other Russian businessman, particularly from the energy industry, have turned up dead this year under unexplained circumstances, according to Reuters:
- Leonid Shulman
- Alexander Tyulakov
- Mikhail Watford
- Vladislav Avayev
- Sergei Protosenya
- Vladimir Lyakishev
- Yury Voronov
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.