Friend of latest Russian tycoon to die says he must have been murdered

Friend of latest Gazprom-linked Russian tycoon to die – found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in his swimming pool – says it was NOT suicide and he must have been murdered

  • Yuri Voronov, 61, was found dead at his mansion in the suburbs of St Petersburg 
  • He ran transport company which had contracts with Russian gas giant Gazprom 
  • Voronov was found floating in the pool of his mansion with bullet in his head 
  • Criminologist friend Oleg Karataev said the death was not a suicide
  • Voronov is sixth wealthy Russian to die in mysterious circumstances this year

A criminologist friend of the latest Gazprom-linked Russian tycoon to die in mysterious circumstances has claimed the multimillionaire was murdered.

Yuri Voronov, 61, head of a logistics company that held lucrative contracts with Gazprom in the Arctic, was found shot dead in the swimming pool of his mansion in an ultra-wealthy suburb of St Petersburg around 2pm Monday. 

Voronov was found floating in the pool with a gunshot wound to his head, a Grand Power pistol nearby, and several spent cases at the bottom of the pool. 

He is at least the sixth wealthy Russian businessman to die in mysterious circumstances since the start of the year, many of them with links to Gazprom, and two of whom died in the same St Petersburg suburb as Voronov.

Professor Oleg Karataev, a top criminologist and dean of the law faculty at a St Petersburg university, said he was a close friend of Voronov and doubts that he took his own life.

Asked if it was a suicide, he said: ‘He did not do this. He was killed. He didn’t have the slightest reason. Did he shoot himself multiple times? I doubt it.’


Yuri Voronov (left), 61, was found dead around 2pm Monday at his mansion near St Petersburg with a gunshot wound to the head. Friend and criminologist Professor Oleg Karataev (right) believes it was murder 

Voronov was found floating in the pool of his mansion in an exclusive suburb of St Petersburg (neighbourhood, pictured above)

The Russian Investigative Committee is probing the death, which has been portrayed as coming after he was depressed over a business dispute in which he lost a large sum. 

His wife has reportedly told investigators that Voronov believed he was being swindled out of ‘a lot of money’ by ‘dishonorable’ contractors and partners.  

Karataev said Voronov had ‘financial problems’ after a close friend ‘robbed him’ of almost £2million, but ‘he was not depressed because of this,’ he said.

He told Komsomolskaya Pravda: ‘The last time we spoke was a few days ago by phone.

‘Yuri was in a great mood. He was generally a cheerful person.

Voronov was head of a logistics company that held lucrative contracts with Gazprom in the Arctic

‘Yuri admitted that he had been in worse situations. He is the head of a large company, he has a business, huge money.’

The professor demanded the case be investigated by a top criminal expert, fearing there would be an attempt to label it suicide and close it.

A number of deaths at other mansions near St Petersburg have led to rumours of murders being staged to look like suicides. 

Alexander Tyulakov, 61, a senior Gazprom financial and security official, was found hanged at his home in the exclusive Leninsky development by a lover in February.

Investigators said he had killed himself, but local reports said his body showed signs of a beating – suggesting the hanging was staged.

Three weeks earlier, in the same housing development, 60-year-old Leonid Shulman was found stabbed to death in his bathroom.

Shulman was the head of transport at Gazprom Invest, a branch of the energy giant that handles its investment projects. 

Billionaire Alexander Subbotin, 43, a former senior executive at energy giant Lukoil, was also found dead in May after ‘taking advice from shamans’.


Alexander Tyulakov, 61 (left), and Leonid Shulman, 60 (right), were found dead in the same St Petersburg suburb from hanging and stabbing respectively

Vladislav Avayev, 51, who had links with Gazprombank, was found dead earlier this year after apparently killing 41-year-old wife Yelena and their 13-year-old daughter

One theory is that he was poisoned by toad venom that triggered a heart attack.

In April, wealthy Vladislav Avayev, 51, a former Kremlin official, appeared to have taken his own life after killing his wife Yelena, 47, and daughter, 13.

He had high level links to leading Russian financial institution Gazprombank.

Friends have disputed reports that he was jealous after his wife admitted she was pregnant by their driver.

There are claims he had access to the financial secrets of the Kremlin elite.

Several days later multimillionaire Sergey Protosenya, 55, was found hanged in Spain, after evidently killing with an axe his wife Natalia, 53, and their teenage daughter, Maria.

Sergey Protosenya, 55, was found hanged in Spain, after apparently killing his wife Natalia, 53, and their teenage daughter, Maria, with an axe

Yevgeny Palant, 47, and his wife Olga, 50, both Ukrainian-born, were found with multiple knife wounds by their daughter Polina, 20, last week

He was a former deputy chairman of Novatek, a company also closely linked to the Kremlin.

As with Avayev, it is suggested this may have been an assassination made to appear a murder-and-suicide.

Last week a mobile phone multi-millionaire and his wife were found stabbed to death in another case that has raised questions.

Naked Yevgeny Palant, 47, and his wife Olga, 50, both Ukrainian-born, were found with multiple knife wounds by their daughter Polina, 20.

Immediate briefing to the media claimed the woman took her own life in a jealous rage after Palant said he was leaving her.

Yet this was strongly disputed by the couple’s best friend.

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