RUSSIAN oligarchs are murdering each other in a bloody battle for power in Putin’s depraved “viper’s nest”, according to one expert.
Russia savant Bill Browder said the oligarchs were scrambling to protect their wealth after being hit hard by Western sanctions.
The renowned banker – who fell out with Putin while managing the country’s largest foreign investment firm – told the MailOnline that the recent spate of “suicides” among Russia’s elites were “all murders”.
Speaking at a Henry Jackson Society conference, Browder said: “What you have going on is this viper’s nest of fighting over assets, cash flow and power as the economic pie shrinks in Russia.
“These people are not oligarchs per se, but they’re people who sit in positions that have some kind of authority over important cash flows – particularly in the oil and gas business,’ such as firms Gazprom, Lukoil, Novatek or Gazprombank.
“The sanctions have been devastating for Russia… as a result the pie has been seriously diminished, and a lot of people want to keep their own personal cash flow at the level they had before the war started.
“And so everyone is looking around to redistribute pieces of the pie.
“If somebody is sitting in front of a cash flow that is going to somebody else, and some meaner, tougher person comes and says ‘we need you to send that to us’ – the person who is in charge of that cash flow will either be killed by the person they’re redirecting it from or the person they’re not redirecting it to.”
He said the recent blood-letting was nothing more than “greedy b******* fighting over money and getting killed for it”.
Among those who met an untimely end is Pavel Pchelnikov, 52-year-old Russian Railways PR manager found shot dead in his Moscow apartment.
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Then there’s Konstantin Goloshchapov’s son Dmitry, who was found dead four days after his dad fled to Belarus days after Putin’s goons raided his business and planned to charge him with embezzelement.
Putin was known to Goloshchapov’s “massage room” at a St. Petersburg’s sauna and was close to the exiled tycoon, dubbed Putin’s ‘masseur’.
In July, Gazprom transport director Yuri Voronov, 61, was found dead in his swimming pool. A leading friend who is a top criminologist warned of foul play.
And billionaire Alexander Subbotin, 43, supposed died in May after “taking advice from shamans”.
The Lukoil exec is thought to have been poisoned with toad venom, which triggered a heart attack.
Ukrainian born multi-millionaire Yevgeny Palant, 47, and his wife Olga Palant, 50, were the latest victims of the senseless onslaught after being found stabbed to death in their family house in Moscow region last week.
Since the start of the year, several of Putin‘s cronies have also died in mysterious circumstances.
It came just weeks after oil boss Ravil Maganov died after “falling from a hospital window”.
The 64-year-old, who was head of Russian oil giant Lukoil, reportedly died after falling from a sixth-floor window at Moscow’s Central Clinic Hospital.
Lukoil, which had earlier criticised the war in Ukraine, confirmed Maganov’s death, but bizarrely put it down instead to some unknown illness.
On February 25 – the day after Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine – the body of Alexander Tyulakov, a senior Gazprom financial and security official at the deputy general director level – was discovered dead by his lover.
The 61-year-old’s neck was in a noose in his £500,000 home.
Meanwhile, wealthy Vladislav Avayev, 51, an ex-vice-president of Gazprombank and former Kremlin official, was found shot dead in his elite Moscow penthouse.
And days later, Sergey Protosenya, 55, was found dead by hanging in Spain.
Protosenya was a former deputy chairman of Novotek, a company closely linked to the Kremlin.
And in In March, the body of Russian billionaire Vasily Melnikov was found in his luxury apartment with stab wounds in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.