Is Prigozhin Putin's latest victim? warlord joins list of dead figures

Is Prigozhin Putin’s latest victim? Amid reports warlord has died in plane crash, how Wagner boss may be joining cast of figures killed in mysterious circumstances after criticising Russia’s despot

  • Many high profile figures have died after they criticised Russian dictator Putin 

Amid reports Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has died in a plane crash, could he be Putin’s latest in a long line of victims? 

A cast of high profile figures have died in mysterious circumstances after they either criticised the Russian dictator, or criticised him in public. 

Speaking out or provoking the wrath of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has proved to be a risky business over the years.

It appears Yevgeny Prigozhin’s name can be added to the list, these are the figures who were killed after going against Putin.

Russian Yevgeny Prigozhin prior to a meeting with business leaders at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, in July 2017

Alexander Litvinenko 

The former Russian spy was poisoned by intelligence agents with a cup of tea laced with Polonioum-210, in London’s Millenium hotel, in 2006.

Litvinenko fled Moscow to Britain in 2000 and from exile became Putin’s strongest critic, joining MI6 as an expert on Russian organised crime.

As he lay dying after the poisoning, he worked with Scotland Yard detectives to trace the lethal substance to the Russian secret service.

He claimed Putin had directly ordered his assassination – former KGB officers Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun were named as suspects in the killing.

In 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia was responsible for his murder.  

Alexander Litvinenko is pictured at the Intensive Care Unit of University College Hospital on November 20, 2006 in London

Boris Berezovsky 

A vocal Putin critic Boris Berezovsky was found dead with a scarf tied around his neck in the bathroom of his ex-wife’s luxury mansion, in Ascot, in 2013.

The 67-year-old Russian oligarch fled to the UK in 2000 to claim political asylum after he openly turned on Putin.

Police at the time said he had committed suicide as there was no sign of a struggle.

But his family feared he was murdered by his enemies in Russia and a coroner later gave an open verdict saying it was ‘impossible’ to say if he had been murdered or killed himself.

Alexander Litvinenko is pictured at the Intensive Care Unit of University College Hospital on November 20, 2006 in London

Boris Nemtsov 

The opposition politician and fierce Putin critic was allegedly shadowed by an agent linked to a political assassination squad.

He rose to prominence in the 1990s and served as deputy prime minister to Boris Yeltsin. After Putin too power Mr Nemtsov became an anti-corruption campaigner.

Mr Nemtsov was shot dead just yards from the Kremlin, in February 2015 – he had been due to lead an anti-war protest against Putin’s invasion of Crimea in the coming days.

Five Chechen men were quickly arrested and jailed for his murder. Subsequent investigations showed Mr Nemtsov was tailed 13 times prior to his killing.

Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead just yards from the Kremlin, pictured in Moscow on Tuesday, April 1, 1997

Mikhail Lesin 

A former advisor to Putin Mr Lesin, 57, was ruled to have died accidentally of blunt force trauma after falling repeatedly in his hotel room while drunk.

Mr Lesin’s death in Washington, in November 2015, was shrouded in mystery and added to when documents from the city’s medical examiner showed he sustained a complete neck fracture ‘at or near his time of death’.

He had played a key role in Putin’s rise to power and amassed a fortune in the 1990s through a television advertising company.

He spent several years as Russia’s media tzar and brought national television under state control before founding Russia Today.

Russia’s Mass Media Minister Mikhail Lesin enters his ministry in central Moscow, March 27, 2002

Denis Voronenkov 

The former Russian MP fled to Ukraine in 2016, having spoken out about Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s policies.

He was shot three or four times in the head and neck on a busy street, in March 2017, in an act described by Ukraine’s then president as ‘state terrorism’.

Mr Voronenkov, 45, had been a member of Russia’s Communist Party and was married to an opera singer.

Prior to his death he had been ‘receiving threats from the FSB’ and was assigned a Ukrainian security service bodyguard. They managed to shoot Mr Voronenkov’s assassin, who later died in hospital.

Mr Voronenkov had been put on a Russian wanted list in connection with an alleged £4m property fraud.

Former Russian MP Denis Voronenkov, who spoke out about Putin and the Kremlin, pictured visiting a movie theatre in Kiev, Ukraine

Vladislav Avayev 

A former Kremlin official and Putin ally, Mr Avayev had been vice president at Russia’s Gazprombank.

The businessman, 51, was found dead from gunshot wounds alongside his ‘pregnant’ wife and teenage daughter at their multi-million pound apartment in Moscow, in April last year.

They were reportedly found by Mr Avayev’s 26-year-old daughter after she had been unable to contact the family.

Reports suggested Mr Avayev killed himself after shooting his family. Some 13 weapons were found inside the family’s 14th floor apartment.

Pictured is Vladislav Avayev, 51, a vice-president of Gazprombank and former Kremlin official

Sergey Protosenya 

The oligarch, 55, was said to have hanged himself after reportedly butchering his wife and teenage daughter at the family’s Spanish holiday home, in April 2022.

Spanish Police said at the time Mr Protosenya, a former executive at Russian gas firm Novotek, had executed the women after experiencing a fit of rage. They had been on an Easter holiday.

Mr Protosenya’s son Fedor claimed the three had been murdered – no suicide note was found, no fingerprints found on the murder weapons and there were no bloodstains on Mr Protosenya’s body.

He had been deputy chairman at Novotek before retiring with a £300 million fortune.

Russian gas tycoon Sergey Protosenya (pictured), his wife Natalya, 53, and teenage daughter Maria were found dead in their Spanish mansion, in Lloret de Mar, in April last year

Ravil Maganov 

Chairman of Russia’s Lukoil company, Maganov died after falling from a sixth-floor hospital window in Moscow, last September.

The Lukoil board had called for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to end as quickly as possible and expressed sympathy to victims of ‘this tragedy’.

Mr Maganov had worked for the Russian oil giant since 1993 before taking over as chairman – he previously received a lifetime achievement award presented to him by Putin.

Sources told Russian state media Mr Maganov had taken his own life.

Ravil Maganov, chairman of Russian oil giant LUKOIL, died after falling from a window at Central Clinical Hospital, Moscow. Pictured with Vladimir Putin in 2019

Pavel Antov 

The sausage tycoon was found dead at an Indian hotel in December last year, while on a trip to celebrate his birthday.

He had been forced to deny criticising Putin’s invasion after a message had appeared on his WhatsApp social media account.

Mr Antov, 65, reportedly fell from a window of the hotel, days after another member of his group had died.

He founded the Vladimir Standard meat processing plant – in 2019 Forbes estimated his worth as £118m.

Russia’s ‘richest elected politician’ Pavel Antov, 65, from pro-Putin United Russia party, was found dead in India after ‘falling from a third floor hotel window’

There are also two high profile figures still alive who have been targeted: 

Sergei Skripal 

The retired Russian intelligence officer nearly died after he and his daughter were poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury in 2018.

Russian intelligence officers were charged with his attempted murder despite claiming they were just ‘tourists’ in the UK.

Three months after the attack on Skripal, a British woman died after finding a perfume bottle filled with the poison and spraying it on her wrist.

Skripal was in the UK after being released from jail in Russia – where he was accused of passing information to MI6 – in a prisoner swap in 2010.

He is now reportedly living in New Zealand with his family.  

Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury in 2018. Three months later a woman died after finding a perfume bottle filled with it 

Alexei Navalny 

Russian opposition leader Mr Navalny is serving a combined 30 years of prison sentences in the harshest possible jail conditions.

The 47-year-old led protests against Putin and built a nationwide opposition, but was imprisoned in 2021.

He survived an attempted assassination in 2020, and is still leading the opposition from jail by passing messages to his lawyers and supporters.

When his sentence was extended by 19 years three weeks ago, he said: ‘Like many political prisoners, I am sitting on a life sentence. Where life is measured by the term of my life or the term of life of this regime

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny takes part in a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, on February 29, 2020

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