Mark Galeotti Mark Galeotti

What the defenestration of Ravil Maganov says about Russia

His death is more likely to be suicide or part of a turf war than a Kremlin hit

Vladimir Putin and Ravil Maganov, 2019 (photo: Getty)

In my travels when I was still persona grata in Russia, I never got the sense that their windows were unduly flimsy or inviting. Nonetheless, the tally of Russians and Russian-connected individuals who have met their end by jumping or falling out of windows is such that it has become a rather tacky and tasteless meme.

Most recently, Ravil Maganov, chair of the Lukoil conglomerate died after falling out of a window in Moscow on Thursday. This follows on the heels of the death in Washington DC of Dan Rapoport, an American businessman who used to be active in Russia before leaving and becoming a critic of the regime. He apparently jumped from an apartment building in Georgetown.

Beyond this, there has been a spate of suicides and deaths among senior Russian businesspeople of late, like the apparent murder-suicide on the Costa Brava, where according to the Spanish police, a former manager from liquefied natural gas producer Novatek killed his wife and daughter and then himself.

In all these cases, the police have claimed no evidence of foul play and each of the departed was described as having been depressed and hitting the bottle beforehand. None of that satisfies those who automatically seen the Kremlin’s hand in all such fatalities.

Most of the killings that really do look like foul play are actually about money, not politics

In the post-Litvinenko, post-Skripal, post-Navalny poisoning era, any time a senior Russian dies for whatever reason, someone will claim foul play. Every dead Russian is an an ‘oligarch’ (none of those who have died of late, even Maganov, merit this title) or a ‘prominent critic of Putin’s’ (despite some claims, Lukoil had not criticised the Ukraine war, just expressed bland hopes for its ‘soonest termination’). The killings follow a ‘Kremlin playbook,’ and the regime that left Polonium smeared all over London and thought seeing the Salisbury

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