The unexpected deaths of six Russian Diplomats in just four months are triggering conspiracy theories. And despite evidence to the contrary in some cases, several deaths of Russian diplomats have been described as due to ‘heart attacks’ or as a result of ‘brief illness’ by Russian officials.
- All six deaths were violent or sudden.
- All took place since the Trump-Russia scandal.
- An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping draft the Trump dossier was also found dead.
On February 20 Vitaly Churkin, 64, was rushed to hospital from his office at Russia’s UN mission after becoming ill suddenly on his way in to work. He became the sixth Russian diplomat to die unexpectedly since November, opening the door for keen Internet conspiracy theorists to find a pattern.
Russian diplomats and intelligence agents are dropping like flies. It’s how the Russians do it. They’ve had lots of practice. #BitterHarvest
— Steve Elde (@steve_elde) February 23, 2017
Initially, the cause of death was reported as a heart attack, but following an autopsy, the medical examiners said his death required ‘further study’.
Not only is his death unexplained, it is remarkably similar to the deaths of Russia’s Ambassador to India on the 27th of January, to Russia’s consul in Athens on the 9th of January, and a Russian diplomat in New York on the 8th of November, US election day.
These three deaths were all labelled “heart attacks” or as a result of “brief illness”. The two other diplomats succumbed to violent deaths with Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, assassinated on the 19th of December in Ankara at a photography exhibition and on the exact same day Petr Polishikov – another diplomat – was shot dead in his Moscow apartment.
On the 26th of December, Oleg Erovinkin was found dead in the back of his car. He was an ex-KGB chief, suspected of helping Christopher Steele, the British spy who drafted the dossier on Donald Trump. He was also an aide to the former deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who now heads up state-owned oil company Rosneft.
It’s weird that Russian diplomats keep dying under mysterious circumstances.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) February 23, 2017
Timeline & motives
- 8th November, 2016
On the morning of the US elections, Russian diplomat Sergei Krivov, 63, was found lying unconscious on the floor of the Russian Consulate in New York with a head injury.
Initially the report was that Krivov fell from the roof, but Russian officials quickly changed the story and said he died from a heart attack. Although police at the time said his death looked natural and closed the case, medical examiners are still unsure how he died.
To further cloud the issue, it is unclear what Krivov did at the consulate, with reports from the Russian media saying he was in charge of “prevention of sabotage” and suppression of “attempts of secret intrusion” into the consulate – i.e. keeping US intelligence officials out.
- 19th December, 2016
Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated at a photography exhibition in Ankara. He was shot in the back by a Turkish police officer who reportedly shouted, “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”
Petr Polshikov was found dead from gunshot wounds in his Moscow apartment. He was shot in the head with a gun found under the bathroom sink, nothing else is known about the incident at this time.
- 26th December, 2016
Ex-KGB chief Oleg Erovinkin who was suspected of helping Christopher Steele on the Trump dossier was found dead in the back of his car. Igor Sechin, his boss at Rosneft and former deputy Prime Minister was repeatedly named in the dossier.
Media quickly reported his death as a certain murder, but officials changed the story to a ‘heart attack’ later.
- 9th January, 2017
The Russian Consul in Athens, Greece, Andrei Malanin, 55, was found dead on the bathroom floor in his apartment. A Greek police official said there was “no evidence of a break-in” and the death appeared to be from natural causes.
Police are still investigating the incident.
- 27th January, 2017
Russia’s Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, 67, died after a “brief illness” according to Indian media. Little else is known about the circumstances of his death.
- 20th February, 2017
Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, died suddenly in New York of suspected heart failure. A medical examiner suggested the need to carry out toxicology tests.
— Blind Willies (@williesband) February 24, 2017