Alexander Nikolayev, a 72-year-old seasoned Russian diplomat, passed away three weeks after being targeted in an enigmatic assault close to his rural residence in the Tver region.
Who was Alexander Nikolayev?
Aleksandr Nikolaev was co-owner of one of Russia’s largest alcohol companies, Alliance 1892, as well as a distribution company called “Trade House 2A.” He is also associated with several other businesses, including “Energoarm,” Project Financing Bank (BPF), and “Russian Railroad Routes.” Despite being involved in the ownership of a company located in the disputed region of Crimea, Mr. Nikolaev has managed to avoid being included in the list of entities and individuals sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department. Notably, many of his primary business partners are already on this sanctions list, raising suspicions that Mr. Nikolaev may be acting as their intermediary or proxy.
Senior Russian Diplomat Alexander Nikolayev in Crimea Attacked
Nikolayev, who had formerly served as the top Russian diplomat in Crimea before its annexation by Vladimir Putin, has been subjected to a severe assault in an undisclosed incident.
According to his family, Nikolayev suffered severe injuries, including visible bleeding, numerous hematomas, and bruises. Subsequently, he required a ventilator for breathing due to the severity of the attack. They have accused Russian law enforcement of failing to conduct a thorough investigation into the assault.
Despite being promptly admitted to one of Moscow’s leading hospitals, Nikolayev remained in a coma and tragically did not recover from his injuries.
Nikolayev’s Post-Crimea Career and Controversial Demise
Following his service in Crimea, Nikolayev subsequently assumed the role of Russian ambassador to Bangladesh before transitioning to employment at Rosatom, the state-owned nuclear energy corporation, in 2016. His murder later garnered attention from Ukrainian official Anton Gerashchenko, who viewed it as the latest in a series of mysterious deaths involving individuals with prominent connections to Russia’s energy sector. In their quest for answers, Nikolayev’s family enlisted the help of renowned Russian human rights expert and journalist Eva Merkacheva to investigate his untimely demise.
Merkacheva uncovered that a local Cossack leader, with close affiliations to the police, admitted to engaging in a confrontation with an unidentified person whom he forcefully pushed.
Where did Alexander Nikolayev Die?
The incident took place in a village near Konakovo town in the Tver region, where the Cossack leader Alexander Konopenko is currently under house arrest. The Russian Investigative Committee has initiated a criminal case in connection with the death of Nikolayev. Nikolayev had previously served as Russia’s Consul-General in Simferopol, Crimea, from 2003 to 2008, prior to the annexation of the peninsula by Putin in 2014. His death, leaving behind his wife and two daughters, adds to a growing list of unexplained deaths linked to the Russian energy sector since the conflict with Ukraine began. While the exact nature of Nikolayev’s role at Rosatom is unclear, the circumstances surrounding his demise raise significant concerns.
Mysterious Deaths Among Russian Elites Amid Ukraine Conflict
Wagner Group Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Recent Death Sparks Concern
Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Tragic Plane Crash:
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, met a tragic end in a plane crash while traveling between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. His death came shortly after a mutiny by his mercenaries in June, which strained his relationship with President Putin.
Speculation Surrounding Prigozhin’s Death:
Many speculate that Prigozhin’s death might be a political assassination, signaling a warning to Russia’s elites ahead of the 2024 elections. Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak shares this sentiment.
President Putin offered condolences and acknowledged Prigozhin’s contribution to fighting in Ukraine. He described Prigozhin as a complex figure with both achievements and mistakes. Several Russian elites have died under mysterious circumstances in the past year, raising concerns and conspiracy theories.
Deaths in Early 2022:
The string of unusual deaths began in early 2022, just before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Notable figures like Leonid Shulman, Alexander Tyulakov, Igor Nosov, and Mikhail Watford were among those who passed away.
Some deaths took on bizarre and perplexing forms, such as Vasily Melnikov’s family stabbing and Vladislav Avayev’s murder-suicide. Alexander Subbotin’s death, involving a shaman and Jamaican voodoo rituals, stood out as particularly unusual.
The pattern of elite deaths persisted into late 2022, with Pavel Antonov’s fatal fall from a hotel window in India. Several of these individuals had voiced criticism of Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
Despite these puzzling incidents, there is no clear and definitive explanation for these deaths. Many have noted the connection between the outspokenness of these elites and their unfortunate fates.
The death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, along with the string of mysterious deaths among Russian elites, remains a topic of intrigue and speculation, leaving many questions unanswered about the circumstances surrounding these individuals’ demises.
Other mysterious Russian deaths or attacks surrounding Putin
In 2015, Boris Nemtsov, a prominent Russian opposition figure known for his strong criticism of the Putin administration, was fatally shot in an assault that took place on a bridge within sight of the Kremlin.
- He met his demise just a few days prior to his scheduled leadership of an uncommon public demonstration against Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean area and its backing of separatist activities in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
- The Kremlin disavowed any participation, while in 2017, a Russian court found five individuals guilty of Nemtsov’s murder in a trial that his family labeled as an attempt to conceal the truth.
- In the years that followed, it came to light that a government agent working with a group that carried out assassinations had been closely watching him in the months before his death.
The leader of the opposition, Navalny, who is currently incarcerated for approximately three decades, was poisoned in August 2020 using a potent nerve agent known as Novichok, a product of Soviet Union’s research and development.
- The Kremlin claimed no responsibility, but later inquiries conducted by Bellingcat revealed that the individuals behind the assault were affiliated with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and that the decision to poison him had come from the highest levels of the Kremlin.
In 2006, Litvinenko, a former KGB agent turned whistleblower, passed away in the United Kingdom as a result of poisoning with a scarce and extremely radioactive substance known as polonium-210.
- Once more, Russia has refused any participation, yet both the United Kingdom and the European Court of Human Rights have reached the determination that Russia likely played a role. The UK investigation even went as far as suggesting that Putin “likely sanctioned” the assassination of Litvinenko.
- One of the indications suggesting the Kremlin’s participation is the observation that nearly all the global supply of polonium-210 originates from state-managed nuclear facilities in Russia, where nuclear authorities have emphasized strict oversight over access to this element.
In 2018, Skripal, a former Russian intelligence operative residing in the United Kingdom, along with his daughter, fell victim to an assault in Salisbury. They were targeted with a nerve agent that bore a resemblance to the substance employed in the attack against Navalny.
- Skripal and his daughter managed to survive, but a British citizen lost their life, and several others were harmed when they encountered a perfume container suspected to be linked to the incident.
- The United States, the United Kingdom, and several other countries have jointly determined that individuals affiliated with the Russian military intelligence agency were responsible for the poisonings. Furthermore, the United Kingdom has formally accused three members of this agency in connection with the incidents.
In July 2003, Russian investigative journalist and liberal lawmaker Shchekochikhin experienced a sudden illness and passed away. Doctors at a hospital associated with the Kremlin stated at the time that his cause of death was attributed to a severe allergic reaction.
- His family members have reported that Shchekochikhin endured a harrowing 12-day period characterized by excruciating pain, during which his skin progressively peeled off, his hair fell out, and his organs suffered successive failures.
- When they requested access to Shchekochikhin’s medical records, medical professionals informed his family that these documents were being held by prosecutors, citing them as a “medical secret.” This was in relation to an investigation that would not be initiated until several years later.
- In the years leading up to his demise, Shchekochikhin had published investigative reports exposing a smuggling operation, money laundering activities, and a corruption scandal involving high-ranking FSB (Federal Security Service) agents.
- Additionally, he had been delving into the potential involvement of the FSB in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings, an event that played a part in triggering the Second Chechen War.
In October 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and advocate for human rights, was fatally shot in her residence located in Moscow.
- She had documented human rights abuses during the Second Chechen War and authored a book in 2004, asserting that Putin, via the FSB, was suppressing civil liberties to steer the nation toward a Soviet-style dictatorship before she passed away.
- In 2014, a Moscow court convicted five men for her murder, but the identity of the individual who ordered her assassination was never determined.
Multiple Russian oligarchs and executives also died :
According to a report from The New York Times, a number of prominent Russian oligarchs and high-ranking executives have met untimely deaths in perplexing circumstances, including suicides and accidents, since the commencement of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Ravil Maganov, who held the position of Chairman of the Board at Lukoil, a prominent Russian conglomerate, experienced a tragic and unexpected demise in September 2022. This unfortunate incident occurred when he fell from a hospital window in Moscow. The circumstances surrounding his death garnered significant attention and controversy in Russia and beyond.
- Russian media initially reported that Ravil Maganov had taken his own life, implying that it was a case of suicide. However, in response to these reports, Lukoil released an official statement following his passing. According to the company’s statement, Maganov did not succumb to suicide but rather passed away as a result of a severe illness.
The sudden and perplexing nature of Maganov’s death, along with the contrasting narratives presented by the media and Lukoil, added an extra layer of complexity to this tragic event. It raised questions and speculation within both the business community and the public, leaving many seeking further information and clarity about the circumstances surrounding the loss of a key figure in one of Russia’s largest private corporations.