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Death of Ivan Sechin: A Geopolitical Mystery?

Death of Ivan Sechin: A Geopolitical Mystery?
Photo Credit: East2West
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This week, we bring intriguing news of the mysterious death of Ivan Sechin, the 34-year-old son of one of Russia’s most feared and powerful men.

Welcome to Whale Hunting, a weekly newsletter delving into the hidden worlds of wealth and power from the team at Project BrazenThis week, we bring intriguing news of the mysterious death of Ivan Sechin, the 35-year-old son of one of Russia’s most feared and powerful men. Catch up on all Project Brazen's work here, including The Professor, about one art dealer's journey deep into the mafia, Gateway, our podcast about Europe's drug wars and The Closer, all about how deals change the world. — Bradley

By Jade-Ruyu Yan and Bradley Hope

The tally of mysterious deaths of Russian oligarchs and their heirs continued to grow last month. Questions abound in the case of Ivan Sechin – son of long-time Putin confidant and Rosneft oil company CEO Igor Sechin – whose little-reported death occurred in February.

In circumstances described as bizarre by specialists and media, 35-year-old Sechin reported being in pain during the early hours of February 5. At the time, he was near Krasnogorsk, a city outside Moscow, in a residence characterised by media as a house for Putin’s associates.

But when the security team called an ambulance, they allegedly didn’t give a complete address. This meant the ambulance didn't arrive for two hours, by which time Sechin had died, according to Russian Telegram channel VChK-OGPU, which describes itself as reporting on officials, oligarchs, gangsters, and security forces.

Olga Lautman, senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington D.C., and co-host and founder of Kremlin File podcast, described the story of Sechin's death as “so strange.” She wrote on Twitter on February 19: “There are still no details and if true the death of the son of one of the most powerful people in Russia has been hidden for 2 weeks.”

The death of Sechin, who received a state award from Putin in 2015 for “longstanding” service, was not publicly reported until February 19. Even then, it was announced in a Facebook post by Putin critic Leonid Nevzlin after he spotted Sechin's name listed in the Russian register of inheritance cases, with his death recorded as February 5.

The death was officially attributed to a blood clot, but Sechin’s family are alleged to be skeptical of this explanation and are looking into it privately, according to VChK-OGPU. The same Telegram channel wrote that Sechin’s father had prevented Russian authorities, including the Investigative Committee and the Federal Security Service, from looking into the death of his son – instead hiring Rosneft security personnel to investigate.

Sechin’s funeral was attended by his father, his mother Marina and those closest to him, according to VChK-OGPU. Among the dignitaries allegedly present at the funeral in St Petersburg was Etibar Eyyub, an Azeri, who leads Coral Energy as well as US-sanctioned trading operations Bellatrix and Voliton, among many other front companies (see WSJ article of 19 Feb 24). Etibar, together with his partner Tahir Garayev, are allegedly the traders behind nearly 80% of all Russian oil exports, including Rosneft's, which is a primary source of funding for the war in Ukraine.

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