Putin tycoon ‘was found hanged in office toilet’ at Lukoil becoming fifth death linked to ‘cursed’ energy firm since war

Putin tycoon ‘was found hanged in office toilet’ at Lukoil becoming fifth death linked to ‘cursed’ energy firm since war

MOSCOW: A RUSSIAN tycoon was “found hanged in his office toilet” by his boss at Kremlin-linked energy giant Lukoil, it was reported today.

The shocking death of Vitaly Robertus, 53, vice-president of the company, was announced on Wednesday but details have only just emerged.

He is the fifth prominent figure linked to Lukoil to be found dead since the start of the war in Ukraine amongst a long list of deceased executives.

The privately-owned firm, the second largest oil giant in Russia, has not commented on the circumstances of the latest death.

But Telegram channel VChK-OGPU – which has close law enforcement links – cited friends and associates saying he had felt being “persecuted”.

Robertus also feared he was being set up to face a criminal investigation amid bitter feuding at the top-level of the US-sanctioned company, his pals added.

He had held a meeting with his boss Oleg Pashaev, senior vice president for Sales & Supply at Lukoil, and gone back to his office, reported the channel.

Hours later, Pashaev went to find him when he didn’t answer calls.

He went into his office at Lukoil’s Moscow HQ and discovered  Robertus dead.

Company medics were called to the scene, rather than a normal ambulance, it was reported.

An investigation into his death is underway.

“Colleagues told the arriving law enforcement officers that recently there had been a nervous atmosphere at work and the vice president [Robertus] was very worried,” reported the channel.

The company – which initially opposed Putin’s war against Ukraine – has been haunted by a succession of deaths of prominent figures.

In November, Russian senator and war backer, Vladimir Lebedev, with close Lukoil links, died suddenly in an unexplained “terrible tragedy” aged 60.

He had close business ties to Vladimir Nekrasov, 66, chairman of the Lukoil board of directors, who died “suddenly” in October from “acute heart failure”.

Lebedev was also a longstanding friend and hunting partner of Vladimir Putin’s closest Kremlin aide, Sergei Kiriyenko, 61.

Kiriyenko is a former Russian prime minister and the dictator’s deputy chief of staff, the man in charge of ensuring the despot’s victory in this week’s presidential election.

Lukoil tycoon Ravil Maganov, 67, fell from a window of Moscow’s elite Central Clinical Hospital, also known as the Kremlin clinic, in September 2022.

There were suspicions of murder but officially Maganov had been in hospital for a longstanding heart problem and fell from a sixth floor window, dying on the spot.

On the same morning, Putin – who had earlier decorated Maganov with a top honour – swept into the hospital to pay his final respects to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, who had died the same week.

Billionaire Alexander Subbotin, 43, also linked to energy giant Lukoil where he was a top manager, was found dead in May 2022 after “taking advice from shamans”.

One theory is that Subbotin – who also owned a shipping company – was poisoned by toad venom triggering a heart attack.

Lukoil initially appeared less than loyal to Putin when the war started, demanding negotiations to end the fighting.

One week into the war, the company’s board including both Nekrasov and Maganov issued a statement on Putin’s invasion which “expresses its concern over the ongoing tragic events in Ukraine and its deepest sympathy to all those affected by this tragedy.

It read: “We are in favour of an early cessation of the armed conflict and fully support its resolution through the negotiation process and diplomatic means.”

Nakrasov – who had been honoured by former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev – had taken over from Maganov as chairman.

Lukoil has issued a statement praising Robertus, but giving no detail on how he had died.

“Over 30 years of work at Lukoil, he earned the respect of colleagues not only within the company but also across the industry as a whole,” said the statement.

“For his contributions to the development of the domestic fuel and energy complex, he was honoured with state and departmental awards.

“He will be remembered in our hearts as a talented leader, a versatile individual, and a compassionate comrade.”

Robertus was said to be one of Russia’s most talented aero-modellers.

He was an Honoured Master of Sports of the Russian Federation, and a seven-time champion of Russia in aero-modelling, as well as a four-time World Champion.

He was also a qualified plane and helicopter pilot.

courtesy : thesun