Russian dissidents continue disappearing in pattern of bizarre deaths

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s opponents continue to disappear in a pattern of strange and sudden deaths, and his greatest domestic opponent, Alexei Navalny, died after a sudden collapse, according to Russian authorities.     

“Generally, as a culture, the Russians don’t believe in coincidences. But, in this particular case, there’s a reason why, although we are unlikely to determine conclusively exactly how Navalny died, many analysts agree that Russian intelligence services are likely behind his death,” Rebekah Koffler, a strategic military intelligence analyst and the author of “Putin’s Playbook,” told Fox News Digital.

“There’s a specific intelligence tradecraft that dates back to 1920 that the Soviets used to eliminate the so-called enemies of the state,” Koffler said. “The Soviets and now the Russians are also masters of covering their tracks and making the assassination look like it’s a natural or accidental death.

“Wet affairs, which connotes the spilling of blood is a doctrine of targeted assassinations, includes poisonings, executions with a shot in the back of the head, forced suicides — such as throwing yourself out of a window — explosions of a mini-bomb hidden in a box of chocolates … and other contrived methods,” Koffler explained.


Russian dissidents oppositionRussian dissidents opposition

Individuals who have died under mysterious circumstances during Vladimir Putin’s reign.

Koffler argued that Putin has not been shy about indicating that the deaths of opposition — be it a direct rival like Navalny or an ally challenging his authority like Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin — occurred at his behest because “he wants us to know that his operatives are behind the operation.”


“He sends us subtle signals that are easily picked up by those who understand who Putin is and know Russian intelligence signature tactics,” Koffler said. “For example, after [GRU officer] Sergei Skripal was poisoned, Putin, in an interview with the Financial Times in June 2019, said that ‘treason is the biggest crime on Earth, and traitors must be punished.’


“In 2010, responding to a question as to whether he had ever had to sign an order ‘to liquidate enemies of the motherland abroad,’ Putin said, ‘Traitors will kick the bucket on their own — whatever they got in exchange for it — those 30 pieces of silver they were given, they will choke on them’,” she added.

Navalny died in prison last week after collapsing in what prison officials claimed was a case of “sudden death syndrome,” but an anonymous paramedic claiming to work for a morgue told independent news outlet Novaya Gazeta Europe that he saw bruising on the body consistent with a person being held down while having a seizure.

Prigozhin, who died when his plane suddenly exploded, killing him and everyone on board, and Navalny are two of the highest-profile examples of Putin’s opponents meeting sudden demises, but many examples have occurred throughout his reign.


A site after a private jet allegedly carrying Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin and other passengers crashed in Russia’s northwestern Tver region, Russia Aug. 23, 2023.

Boris Nemtsov, another major domestic rival, died in 2015 right before an opposition rally. A gunman from a passing car shot Nemtsov four times while he was crossing a bridge outside the Kremlin. Putin offered condolences and called the death “provocation” before ordering authorities to investigate.

Authorities eventually arrested five men who ended up sentenced to 11 and 20 years in prison for Nemtsov’s murder, but the Russian government has consistently refused to classify Nemtsov’s death as a political assassination.


Anna Politkovskaya, an American Russian journalist and human rights activist, was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building in 2006. She regularly criticized the Kremlin, particularly regarding policies related to Chechnya. A probe into her death failed to determine who ordered her death, and investigators dismissed the involvement of a Moscow-backed Ramzan Kadyrov, who eventually took power as the head of the Chechen Republic.

Kadyrov also denied any involvement in the death of journalist Natalya Estemirova, who was abducted and killed in 2008 outside her home in Grozny. Chechnya reinstated Russian federal rule in 2009 and has remained a staunch ally of Russia, speaking out in favor of Putin’s war against Ukraine and supplying troops.

Navalny memorial in RussiaNavalny memorial in Russia

People gather at a memorial for late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny organized at the monument to the victims of political repression in Saint Petersburg Feb. 16, 2024.

More recently, a number of high-profile Russian businessmen died in a series of bizarre accidents after speaking out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including oil giant Lukoil’s Chairman Ravil Maganov, who fell out a hospital window. Lukoil said Maganov died from an illness, but Russian media and investigators determined he had fallen out of a sixth-story window.

Pavel Antov, known as the “sausage king” of Russia and a local politician, also fell from a window in late 2022. Authorities found him dead outside the Hotel Sai International in Rayagada, India, after celebrating his 65th birthday only days earlier. One of Antov’s traveling companions also died at the hotel.

At least eight other Russian oligarchs died under strange circumstances over the first year of the invasion, and international investigators suggested the deaths could have been staged suicides or assassinations as retaliation for their opposition to the invasion or links to corruption in Russian gas company Gazprom.

Koffler explained to Fox News Digital that the deaths, if carried out by intelligence, will always be designed “deliberately to be stealthy so no investigator could identify foul play.

“They are usually deemed ‘tragic accidents,’ [which is] also part of the doctrine,” she added.

Original article source: Putin’s ‘greatest hits’: Russian dissidents continue disappearing in pattern of bizarre deaths

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