Vladimir Nikolayevich Sungorkin, 68, was editor-in-chief of the Russian state newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda. According to the newspaper, Sungorkin died “suddenly” after showing signs of “suffocation” during the trip on Wednesday. “It happened absolutely suddenly, nothing foreshadowed. We were in the village of Roshchino. We were driving, we were already making our way towards Khabarovsk, we planned to get there in the evening today, and from there to Moscow. All was good,” his colleague Leonid Zakharov, who had accompanied him on the business trip, wrote in a story for KP.
According to Zakharov, Sungorkin fell unconscious minutes after suggesting their group “find a beautiful place somewhere… for lunch.” “Three minutes later, Vladimir began to suffocate. We took him out for fresh air, he was already unconscious… Nothing helped. The doctor who did the initial examination said that apparently, it was a stroke. But this is the initial conclusion,” his colleague wrote.
Sungorkin’s passing comes amid a string of mysterious deaths of top Putin allies this month. Most recently, Ivan Pechorin aviation director for Russia’s Far East and Arctic Development Corporation, was reported dead after allegedly “falling from a boat” in Vladivostok, according to local Russian media outlets.
Updated: A list of oligarchs and Putin critics found dead since Ukraine war
Pechorin is said to have been tasked with modernising Russia’s aviation industry and worked directly under Putin.
Earlier this year, the company’s 43-year-old general director Igor Nosov also died from a reported stroke after taking over the reins in May 2021.
The news of Pechorin’s death came less than two weeks after the chairman of the board of Russia’s largest private oil company, Ravil Maganov, died in what Russian news agencies cited as an accidental fall from a hospital window.
Incidentally, Maganov was not the first Lukoil official to die under suspicious circumstances since Kremlin’s full-scale aggression against its western neighbour began in late February.
A former top manager Aleksandr Subbotin was found dead in the basement of a residence in a Moscow suburb in May.
Leonid Shulman, Gazprom, 60, was found in the bathroom of the house with slashed wrists, local news reported, citing a source.
The morning after Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, Alexander Tyulyakov, 65, a senior executive of Gazproms’s Corporate Security, died at his home in the same village as Shulman. According to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, his body was found hanged in the garage.
One of two deaths that have taken place abroad is that of Mikhail Watford, who lived with his family in the UK. On 28 February, the Ukrainian-born 66-year-old oil and gas magnate, who also built a property empire in London, was found dead at his home in Surrey.
In March, the bodies of Russian billionaire Vasily Melnikov and his family were found in his luxury flat in Nizhny Novgorod, a city in western Russia.
Melnikov had made his fortune working for one of the medical companies affected by Western sanctions.
The latest case has taken place in Spain, more specifically in Lloret de Mar, where Russian oligarch Sergei Protosenya Novatek, 55, was found dead along with two other family members on 19 April.
Just a day before the death of Protosenya and his family, the body of Russian oligarch Vladislav Avayev was found in his Moscow flat, along with the bodies of his wife and 13-year-old daughter. His daughter Anastasia, 26, was the one who discovered the crime scene.
On 2 May, Andrei Krukovsky, the 37-year-old director of a Sochi ski resort owned by the gas giant, died after allegedly falling off a cliff while hiking near the Achipse fortress, the scenic area’s landmark monument.
And on 4 July, multi-millionaire businessman Yuri Voronov was found in the swimming pool at his home in the affluent Vyborgsky neighbourhood of St Petersburg with a gunshot wound to his head.
In December of the same year, the founder of nationalist blog Sputnik and Pogrom Yegor Prosvirnin died after falling out of a window of a Moscow apartment building.
And on 14 August, Dan Rapoport, Latvian-American investment banker and outspoken Putin critic who had just left Ukraine after the Russian invasion, was found dead in front of a luxury apartment building in Washington DC.