Since Moscow launched the invasion of Ukraine in February, the deaths of Russian oligarchs seem to be constantly in the headlines. Despite the official causes of death given, Cockburn has a sneaking suspicion that Vladimir Putin might have something to do with it. Death by unusual, news-making circumstances is a hallmark of his regime.

The Russian leader intends for such deaths to make the news and for the world to blame the Kremlin for them. It forms part of his strategy of intimidating potential opponents and dissidents. Enemies of Putin that have gone to the West...

Since Moscow launched the invasion of Ukraine in February, the deaths of Russian oligarchs seem to be constantly in the headlines. Despite the official causes of death given, Cockburn has a sneaking suspicion that Vladimir Putin might have something to do with it. Death by unusual, news-making circumstances is a hallmark of his regime.

The Russian leader intends for such deaths to make the news and for the world to blame the Kremlin for them. It forms part of his strategy of intimidating potential opponents and dissidents. Enemies of Putin that have gone to the West have faced radiation poisoning and attacks with powerful nerve agents. Those who have countered Putin in Russian politics have been jailed or gunned down in the streets. Now, apparently, oligarchs are in the crosshairs.

On February 25, police discovered Gazprom’s Alexander Tyulakov dead by hanging in his garage. In April, Vladislav Aveyev of Gazprom and Sergey Protosenya of Novatek were found dead with family members in Moscow and Spain.

On May 2, Andrei Krukovsky plummeted to his death from a cliff in Sochi.  In July, Yuri Voronov of Astra-Shipping was discovered in his pool after having been shot.

Ravil Maganov of Lukoil, who had voiced disapproval with the invasion of Ukraine, fell from a hospital window in Moscow and died on September 1.  Less than two weeks later, Ivan Pechorin fell off a boat near Russia’s eastern coast and died.

In early December, property developer Dmitry Zelenov died from his injuries after falling down a set of stairs in France. Grigory Kochinov of AgimaIT died on the same day as Zelenov after he fell from the upper floors of his house.

And on December 24, Pavel Antov, who like Maganov was unhappy with the Ukraine war, fell from a significant height at his hotel in India and died.

That is not even a complete list of deaths in questionable circumstances from 2022. The message, though, is crystal clear: in the new, post-invasion Russia, nobody is safe, no matter how wealthy and well-connected they are, no matter what their location.

In fact, so many oligarchs died last year that some have even taken to calling the occurrence “Sudden Russian Death Syndrome” and “Sudden Oligarch Death Syndrome.” Cockburn will be taking extra precautions the next time he’s invited on a superyacht…