A FORMER Putin ally turned war critic has been found dead in suspicious circumstances, the youngest Russian presidential aide to die this year.
Pavel Pchelnikov, 52, an executive at state-run Russian Railways (RDZ), was found shot dead on the balcony of his Moscow apartment.
According to Russian media, he is said to have killed himself on Wednesday.
Just weeks earlier, he had shared sweet pictures from a family vacation, which made his sudden death, seemingly at the hands of himself, all the more shocking.
Pchelnikov boasted that he was “the most experienced PR manager in the Russian railway company”.
“He is known to have been on vacation just a month ago and willingly posted photos from his vacation on social media,” the outlet reported We Can Explain.
“What could have driven the man to a desperate act is unknown.”
Russian Railways has reportedly recently come under pressure from the Kremlin for failing to prevent Ukrainian hackers from shutting down its network.
This has caused critical delays in supplying the frontline.
The company was hit with EU sanctions on February 27, in the early days of the war. The UK followed suit, sanctioning the company on March 24.
At the time, the government described Russian Railways as one of the “key industries supporting Russia’s illegal invasion.”
On April 11, the company became the first sanctioned company to default on an interest payment.
In July, the company publicly called on the EU to lift the sanctions, claiming they would “restrict RDZ’s ability to carry out socially meaningful, humanitarian tasks and be discriminatory towards the population of the Russian Federation”.
The company has also criticized the war in Ukraine.
Last week, following Putin’s mobilization announcement, the company’s website crashed as thousands tried to flee abroad before conscription.
The company was forced to issue a statement denying state media reports that military-age men are required to prove their military service status before purchasing tickets.
What could have driven the man to an act of desperation is unknown
We can explain
Pchelnikov is the youngest ex-Putin buddy to be found dead under dramatic circumstances since the beginning of the war.
Last week, Anatoly Gerashchenko, the former rector of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI), died after reportedly falling down a set of stairs on Tuesday.
According to reports, the 73-year-old head of aviation at the institute fell down “several flights of stairs” and died at the scene.
Gerashchenko is said to have fallen out with Putin’s inner circle and pushed him out of his post as rector seven years ago.
Earlier this month, Ivan Pechorin — Putin’s point of contact for developing Russia’s vast Arctic resources — was reported to have mysteriously fallen off the side of a boat in waters near Russky Island.
It came just weeks after oil boss Ravil Maganov died after “falling out of a hospital window.”
The 64-year-old, head of Russian oil giant Lukoil, reportedly died after falling from a sixth-floor window at Moscow Central Hospital.
Lukoil, who had previously criticized the war in Ukraine, confirmed Maganov’s death but bizarrely attributed it to an unknown illness instead.
On February 25 – the day after Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine – the body of Alexander Tyulakov, a senior Gazprom finance and security official at the level of Deputy Director General, was found dead by his lover.
The 61-year-old’s neck was in a noose at his £500,000 home.
Just three weeks earlier, Leonid Shulman, head of transport at Gazprom Invest, was found dead in the same elite housing complex in Leningrad region.
The 60-year-old was discovered with multiple stab wounds in a pool of blood on his bathroom floor.
Meanwhile, wealthy Vladislav Avayev, 51, a former Gazprombank vice president and former Kremlin official, was found shot dead in his elite penthouse in Moscow.
And days later, Sergey Protosenya, 55, was found hanged in Spain.
Protosenya was a former deputy chairman of Novotek, a company closely associated with the Kremlin.
And in March, the body of Russian billionaire Vasily Melnikov was found with stab wounds in his luxury apartment in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.
News of the latest death comes as Putin prepares to announce the annexation of four Ukrainian territories following mock referendums.
A large rally in Moscow on Friday will announce victory in referendums in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhia, which account for 15 percent of Ukraine’s total landmass.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/6330897/russian-executive-found-dead-mysterious-putin-railways/ The ninth Russian manager was found shot to the head in a suspected “suicide” just weeks after a happy family holiday