Russian energy oligarch found dead in his detention cell – the 40th high-profile Russian death since February 2022

Russian energy oligarch found dead in his detention cell – the 40th high-profile Russian death since February 2022

Russian energy oligarch Igor Shkurko was found dead on Tuesday, April 4, in a Siberian prison cell where he was detained after being accused of taking a bribe.

Shkurko’s body was found in his cell in a detention center in the city of Yakutsk in the Sakha Republic in Siberia. Shkurko, 49, had two sons and was the deputy general director of the energy corporation Yakutskenergo. He was also a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party.

The Russian oligarch was accused of taking a bribe worth approximately $6,200. The day before his body was discovered, Shkurko had just submitted an appeal against what he claimed was an “unjust allegation” of bribery.

Russian authorities claim there are no signs that Shkurko’s death was “criminal” in nature.

“On April 4, the accused was found in a cell of the pre-trial detention center with no signs of life,” said the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service in a statement. “Arriving medical workers ascertained his death. An investigative team was called to the scene. According to the preliminary data, no signs of a criminal death were found.”

Yakutskenergo, Shkurko’s company, said in a statement it will remember Shkurko “as an open, hospitable person with a big heart and a good sense of humor, the caring head of a close-knit family.”

Shkurko just the latest high-profile Russian found dead since 2022

Shkurko is the 40th high-profile Russian individual – ranging from business oligarchs to scientists and even generals of the Russian Armed Forces – to suddenly pass away with little explanation since the beginning of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine in February 2022.

One of the first individuals who passed away under mysterious circumstances was Alexander Tyulakov, 61, who was at the time the deputy general director of a Gazprom subsidiary. He supposedly died by suicide just one day after the beginning of the conflict with Ukraine.

Two months later, Vladislav Avayev, 51, the then-vice president of Gazprombank, was found dead in his home in Moscow alongside the bodies of his wife and 13-year-old daughter. Authorities immediately concluded that Avayev killed his wife and daughter before taking his own life.

A former top Gazprombank official disputed the official story, claiming that Avayev had access to the private accounts of very elite clients, potentially including members of Putin’s inner circle and possibly the president himself.

“These top managers worked in structures that we suspect were linked to financial fraud in multi-billion dollar contracts with Gazprom,” said investigative journalism outlet Novaya Gazeta Europe, in cooperation with Transparency International Russia. Their report suggests that the recent deaths were linked to a complex “money-laundering scheme.”

While a potential conspiracy involving financial matters may explain some of the unexplained deaths, this alone is insufficient to explain the passing of several high-profile members of the Russian Armed Forces.

These deaths include former Commander in Chief of the Russian Ground Forces Alexei Maslov, who “died unexpectedly” while in a military hospital last December, and Marina Yankina, a high-ranking member of the Russian Ministry of Defense, who was found dead after falling from a window of a high-rise building.

Watch this clip discussing the video showing the suspected car bomber that killed Darya Dugina, daughter of a known Vladimir Putin ally.

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