Putin’s long list of enemies who suddenly died before Prigozhin’s plane crash

Russia: Footage allegedly shows jet carrying Prigozhin shot down

As Yevgeny Prighozin’s private plane fell out of the sky last week, two months after he led a mutiny against Moscow, few outside of Russia were taken aback but many knew who to blame.

“I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I’m not surprised,” US president Joe Biden said after the crash. “There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind.”

The ongoing Russia special investigation, many believe, is a facade. It is a foregone conclusion that could and would never hold Vladimir Putin responsible; they will say it is an accident, or perhaps they will resort to old tactics and claim the hand of Chechen terrorists.

Whatever they conclude, Pirgozhin’s “confirmed” death, alongside Dmitry Utkin, his right-hand man, and Valery Chekalov, Wagner’s logistics chief, is the latest in a long line of powerful Russian oligarchs, politicians and journalists who have met untimely deaths months after daring to question the authority of the nation’s autocratic head.

Express.co.uk has put together a brief breakdown – an exhaustive list would be lengthy, if not impossible – of the many dissidents who have died in suspicious circumstances since Putin became president.

READ MORE Mafia boss style ‘funeral preparations’ spotted ‘being made for Prigozhin’

The most high profile political execution in Russia was that of Boris Nemtsov, the once deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, Putin’s predecessor.

On a cold February night in 2015, while out walking with his girlfriend, the harsh Putin critic was gunned down by assailants. He died on a bridge next to the Kremlin.

Five men from the Russian region of Chechnya were convicted, with the gunman receiving up to 20 years, but Nemtsov’s allies said their involvement was an attempt to shift blame from the government.

In 2017, Denis Voronenkov, a former member of the communist faction in the lower house of Russian parliament, was shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Ukraine’s then president Petro Poroshenko described his killing as an “act of state terrorism” by Russia, which was quickly rejected by the Kremlin.

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In Britain’s “Londongrad”, a longtime home for many Russian oligarchs, critics of Putin have faced surreptitious poisoning attempts, while others have died in suspicious suicide attempts.

In 2006, Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko, a former agent for the KGB and its post-Soviet successor agency, the FSB, felt violently ill in the capital after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210. He died three weeks later.

A British inquiry found that Russian agents had killed Litvinenko, probably with Putin’s approval, but the Kremlin denied any involvement.

Litvinenko was also a known confidante of Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch who claimed to have handpicked Putin for the presidency before being turned upon by the autocrat and effectively exiled. Berezovsky in turn was found dead in the bathroom of his Berkshire mansion in March 2013 in an apparent suicide. An inquest into his death recorded an open verdict.

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Another former Russian intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal, was poisoned in Britain in 2018. While out with his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury, the pair were exposed to military grade nerve agent Novichok.

They survived, but the attack later claimed the life of a British woman and left a man and a police officer seriously ill.

Journalists have also faced brutal repercussions for daring to speak against Putin. Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta whose death Litvinenko was investigating, was shot and killed in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006, which was also Putin’s birthday.

Two years earlier, Paul Klebnikov, the American journalist, then Forbes Russia editor, was killed outside his office in a drive-by shooting in Moscow. He had worked to expose corruption and human rights abuses in Russia, and had published a list of Russia’s richest people.

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