7th Russian oligarch to die this year allegedly poisoned with toad venom

A couple rest in Zaryadye park with the Christ the Savior Cathedral on the background during the sunset in downtown Moscow on April 19, 2022. Kirill Kudryavtsev/Getty Images

Another Russian oligarch has died under strange circumstances, bringing the tally for this year up to seven incidents.

Alexander Subbotin was a former top manager of Lukoil, a major energy corporation in Russia, and died from an alleged toad poisoning on Sunday.

State-run news outlet TASS reported that Subbotin’s body was discovered in the home of a shaman in Mytishchi and that the billionaire likely died of a heart attack.

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A criminal investigation has been opened to look into the incident and authorities will test Subbotin’s blood to look for traces of drugs in his system.

A number of outlets, including The Moscow Times, The Independent, Newsweek and Business Insider reported that Subbotin may have received an anti-hangover treatment that involves toad venom, administered by Alexei Pindyurin, a shaman who goes by the name Magua.

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The Telegram channel Mash claims that the shaman “made an incision on the skin, dripped toad poison there — and after vomiting the patient allegedly got better.”

Mash also claimed that Subbotin knew Pindyurin and his wife well and regularly received treatments from them.

“And so he came to them once again — to treat a hangover. Suddenly he felt unwell — his heart ached. The owner decided not to call an ambulance, gave Corvalol (a sedative) and put the businessman to sleep in the basement. There the man died,” he said.

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TASS reported on a source’s claim that Subbotin arrived at the house “in a state of severe alcoholic and drug intoxication the day before” his death. The outlet wrote that the basement where he was found was reportedly used for “Jamaican voodoo rituals.”

Since the start of 2022, six Russian oligarchs have died in alleged suicides. The three most recent cases were labelled as murder-suicides by investigators because, in those instances, the families of the Russian oligarchs were also found dead.

Five out of the six alleged suicides came after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Many of the Russian businessmen who have died have been linked to the energy sector. Four of the alleged suicides were all top managers of Russia’s Gazprom, a state-owned energy multinational and Russia’s largest company.

Luzoil, where Subbotin worked, accounts for two per cent of the world’s oil production, according to its website.

Grzegorz Kuczyński, a director at the Warsaw Institute, a Polish think tank, said, “In all cases, there are widespread suspicions that the deaths may have been staged as suicides, but who did this and why?”

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