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Five prominent Russian businessmen who are believed to be assosiated with Vladimir Putin's 'inner circle' have died by apparent suicide since the end of January.
CNN reports the individuals who have died are believed to be associated with Russian state owned energy producer Gazprom or their subsidiary companies, as well as Putin's 'inner circle'.
The death of so many prominent figures in Russian business in similar circumstances and quick succession has prompted accusations that Putin's regime has initiated a purge against potential risks, particularly as previous opponents of the Putin regime have been found dead in suspicious circumstances.
The body of Leonid Shulman, the head of transport at Gazprom Invest, was discovered with multiple stab wounds on 30 January, 2022 in his cottage in Leninsky, near St Petersburg.
Russian state media RIA Novosti reported that a suicide note was found near his body and that police were treating his death as a suicide.
Less than a month later on 25 February, the body of another top Gazprom executive was discovered in a nearby location as Alexander Tyulakov was found hanging in his garage, though he appeared to have been badly beaten shortly before his death.
In late March, the body of medical supplies company MedStom owner Vasily Melnikov was found dead alongside those of his family in Nizhny Novgorod, with Russian authorities treating the deaths as a case of murder-suicide on Melnikov's part.
Former vice president of Gazprombank, the third largest bank in Russia, Vladislav Avayev was found dead with his wife and daughter in their Moscow flat on 18 April in what police said was another case of murder-suicide.
Igor Volobuev, another former VP of Gazprombank who recently left Russia to fight for Ukraine, said he did not believe Avayev killed himself, suggesting 'he knew something and that he posed some sort of risk'.
The next day on 19 April, Sergey Protosenya, a former executive with Russia's largest independent producer of natural gas Novatek, was found dead with his wife and daughter in their Mediterranean resort near Barcelona in what appeared to be yet another case of murder-suicide.
Protosenya's son said he didn't believe the official version of events, suggesting instead that his father was murdered as he would 'never do anything to harm' his family.
The Putin regime has killed people they have deemed to be enemies before, and their attempts at murder have not been limited to Russian territory.
Russian defector to the UK Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium in November 2006, while in 2018 Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with nerve agent Novichok that claimed the life of Dawn Sturgess.
The nerve agent was also used in the attempted assassination of Alexei Navalny, a political opponent of Putin's who is now in jail.
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