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Russia's Millionaires Dying in 'Epidemic of Murder' to Fund Vladimir Putin's War in Ukraine, Says Ca

Rejected submission by upstart at 2022-10-02 21:23:40
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Russia's millionaires dying in 'epidemic of murder' to fund Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, says campaigner - ABC News [abc.net.au]:

Russia's elite businessmen seem to have a problem.  They keep dying in more and more suspicious circumstances.

Key points:

  • Fifteen high-profile Russian businessmen have died in suspicious circumstances
  • A campaigner against human rights violations believes the deaths were ordered by the Kremlin
  • He suspects the deaths demonstrate Vladimir Putin's desperation to fund his war in Ukraine

The latest was Anatoly Gerashchenko, the former head of the Moscow Aviation Institute, who died late last month after reportedly falling down a flight of stairs.

A few weeks before him, Ravil Maganov, chairman of major Russian oil company, Lukoil, died after falling out of a hospital window.

In May, another top Lukoil manager, Alexander Subbotin, was found dead near Moscow after reportedly visiting a shaman.

In all, 15 high-profile Russian businessmen have died in mysterious ways since the start of the year.

Most are officially recorded as suicides but those familiar with Russia's business world see it differently.

"Generally in Russia, if somebody dies in that way, one should view it as suspicious," says businessman and Kremlin-critic Bill Browder.

"You should rule in the foul play, not rule it out."

Mr Browder, who was once Russia's largest foreign investor, has spent years campaigning for a law to punish Russian human rights violations after his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian jail in 2009.

He told the ABC News Daily podcast he had little doubt the deaths of the Russian oligarchs — predominantly from the oil and gas sector — have come at the orders of the Kremlin.

"When people of all the same industry die that way, it looks to me like what I would call an epidemic of murder," he said.

'Kneecapped by sanctions'

But while some have linked the deaths to a statement Lukoil put out in March urging for an end to the war in Ukraine, Mr Browder isn't convinced.

"If you read the [Lukoil] statement, it's not against the war at all," he said.

"It just says that It would be better to resolve things through negotiation than conflict — I don't view that as some kind of condemnation of war.

"It doesn't ring true to me in any way that these people are anti-war activists, political dissidents, or anything that would provoke killing for that statement."

Rather, he said the deaths demonstrate President Vladimir Putin's desperation to maintain control of one of the most lucrative sectors in the Russian economy.

"Vladimir Putin has been kneecapped by the sanctions," he said.

"He's the richest man in the world and he holds his money via these individuals called the Russian oligarchs, who have all been sanctioned.

"The only money that hasn't really been sanctioned has been the revenues from the oil and gas industry, and he needs more money now to run his war."

Mr Browder said they would be under pressure to provide some of that money to the Kremlin, and used the example of the chairman of Lukoil, Ravil Maganov, who was found dead on September 1.

"These people all sit in front of large cash flows or assets," he said.

"I would suspect that this guy said 'no' and then the best way of getting that flow of cash is to kill him and then ask his replacement the same question.

"I would suspect that Putin gets a cut of whatever redirected flows of money are resulting from these murders."

A president under increasing pressure

One military news website, SOPREF, estimated Russia military expenditure to be more than $1.4 billion a day.

It's a figure likely to increase with Mr Putin's recent decision to order Russia's first military mobilisation since World War II.

Russia claimed up to an additional 300,000 reservists will be mobilised in what Mr Browder said was a clear demonstration of Mr Putin's increasing desperation.

"I think he's under a tremendous amount of pressure," he said.

"The fact that he has had to cross this red line of doing a general conscription is the clearest sign of the pressure yet."

The conscription program has re-ignited protests against the war and in some places led to conflict as draftees refuse to be conscripted.

It came as little surprise to Mr Browder, who said the conscription push was a step too far for many Russians.

"I know of a lot of Russians who basically have not cared about Putin's brutality before," he said.

"All of a sudden, these same individuals are really angry right now because it affects them if either they, or people they know, are going to die in a war that they don't support."

How much opposition could there be?

The draft has also resulted in long queues of people attempting to leave Russia, with fears the Kremlin could soon close the borders to prevent those eligible to serve in the military from leaving.

Sam Greene, professor of Russian politics at King's College London, said enforcing the draft by stopping people leaving would harden resistance.

"If the Kremlin orders the military to tighten things up, the impact of the draft on Russian citizens will become more concerted and coherent, increasing the breadth of resistance," he tweeted.

Loading Twitter content

Professor Greene claimed there were signs of more widespread collective resistance emerging in Russia.

But whether that collective response turns into a larger protest movement depends on how the Russian authorities respond to people opposing the draft.

"If people — individually or in small groups — are allowed to carve out exceptions for themselves, the powerful incentive will be for people to stick to their localised power, and to defend themselves as individuals," he tweeted.

"If, however, the state decides that it cannot allow such exceptions … the result will almost certainly be nationwide protest and a direct challenge to the regime."

Either way, Mr Browder is convinced Mr Putin's hold on power is unlikely to come under threat.

"He's got a long track record of quashing dissent by fear and brutality, so that's the most likely outcome," he said.

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

Posted , updated Sun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmShare

More on:

Russia's elite businessmen seem to have a problem.  They keep dying in more and more suspicious circumstances.

Key points:

  • Fifteen high-profile Russian businessmen have died in suspicious circumstances
  • A campaigner against human rights violations believes the deaths were ordered by the Kremlin
  • He suspects the deaths demonstrate Vladimir Putin's desperation to fund his war in Ukraine

The latest was Anatoly Gerashchenko, the former head of the Moscow Aviation Institute, who died late last month after reportedly falling down a flight of stairs.

A few weeks before him, Ravil Maganov, chairman of major Russian oil company, Lukoil, died after falling out of a hospital window.

In May, another top Lukoil manager, Alexander Subbotin, was found dead near Moscow after reportedly visiting a shaman.

In all, 15 high-profile Russian businessmen have died in mysterious ways since the start of the year.

Most are officially recorded as suicides but those familiar with Russia's business world see it differently.

"Generally in Russia, if somebody dies in that way, one should view it as suspicious," says businessman and Kremlin-critic Bill Browder.

"You should rule in the foul play, not rule it out."

Mr Browder, who was once Russia's largest foreign investor, has spent years campaigning for a law to punish Russian human rights violations after his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian jail in 2009.

He told the ABC News Daily podcast he had little doubt the deaths of the Russian oligarchs — predominantly from the oil and gas sector — have come at the orders of the Kremlin.

"When people of all the same industry die that way, it looks to me like what I would call an epidemic of murder," he said.

'Kneecapped by sanctions'

But while some have linked the deaths to a statement Lukoil put out in March urging for an end to the war in Ukraine, Mr Browder isn't convinced.

"If you read the [Lukoil] statement, it's not against the war at all," he said.

"It just says that It would be better to resolve things through negotiation than conflict — I don't view that as some kind of condemnation of war.

"It doesn't ring true to me in any way that these people are anti-war activists, political dissidents, or anything that would provoke killing for that statement."

Rather, he said the deaths demonstrate President Vladimir Putin's desperation to maintain control of one of the most lucrative sectors in the Russian economy.

"Vladimir Putin has been kneecapped by the sanctions," he said.

"He's the richest man in the world and he holds his money via these individuals called the Russian oligarchs, who have all been sanctioned.

"The only money that hasn't really been sanctioned has been the revenues from the oil and gas industry, and he needs more money now to run his war."

Mr Browder said they would be under pressure to provide some of that money to the Kremlin, and used the example of the chairman of Lukoil, Ravil Maganov, who was found dead on September 1.

"These people all sit in front of large cash flows or assets," he said.

"I would suspect that this guy said 'no' and then the best way of getting that flow of cash is to kill him and then ask his replacement the same question.

"I would suspect that Putin gets a cut of whatever redirected flows of money are resulting from these murders."

A president under increasing pressure

One military news website, SOPREF, estimated Russia military expenditure to be more than $1.4 billion a day.

It's a figure likely to increase with Mr Putin's recent decision to order Russia's first military mobilisation since World War II.

Russia claimed up to an additional 300,000 reservists will be mobilised in what Mr Browder said was a clear demonstration of Mr Putin's increasing desperation.

"I think he's under a tremendous amount of pressure," he said.

"The fact that he has had to cross this red line of doing a general conscription is the clearest sign of the pressure yet."

The conscription program has re-ignited protests against the war and in some places led to conflict as draftees refuse to be conscripted.

It came as little surprise to Mr Browder, who said the conscription push was a step too far for many Russians.

"I know of a lot of Russians who basically have not cared about Putin's brutality before," he said.

"All of a sudden, these same individuals are really angry right now because it affects them if either they, or people they know, are going to die in a war that they don't support."

How much opposition could there be?

The draft has also resulted in long queues of people attempting to leave Russia, with fears the Kremlin could soon close the borders to prevent those eligible to serve in the military from leaving.

Sam Greene, professor of Russian politics at King's College London, said enforcing the draft by stopping people leaving would harden resistance.

"If the Kremlin orders the military to tighten things up, the impact of the draft on Russian citizens will become more concerted and coherent, increasing the breadth of resistance," he tweeted.

Loading Twitter content

Professor Greene claimed there were signs of more widespread collective resistance emerging in Russia.

But whether that collective response turns into a larger protest movement depends on how the Russian authorities respond to people opposing the draft.

"If people — individually or in small groups — are allowed to carve out exceptions for themselves, the powerful incentive will be for people to stick to their localised power, and to defend themselves as individuals," he tweeted.

"If, however, the state decides that it cannot allow such exceptions … the result will almost certainly be nationwide protest and a direct challenge to the regime."

Either way, Mr Browder is convinced Mr Putin's hold on power is unlikely to come under threat.

"He's got a long track record of quashing dissent by fear and brutality, so that's the most likely outcome," he said.

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

"If you were to bet as to whether Vladimir Putin is going to be around five years from now, I think a betting man would say he probably will be."

Posted , updated Sun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmSun 2 Oct 2022 at 8:52pmShare

More on:

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