In an incident that has caused much speculation, Ravil Maganov, Chairman of the Russian Energy Company Lukoil, has died after falling from a window on the 6th floor of a Moscow hospital. While official investigations remain open to the cause of death—suicide, murder, accident—Western media points to the fact that Maganov is only the latest in a series of mysterious deaths of high-ranking energy executives over the last few months.
On Thursday morning, September 1st, reports circulated that Maganov—who was in hospital being treated for a heart attack and on antidepressants—fell out of the window from his hospital room, presumably while smoking. According to the Russian Telegram channel Baza, cigarettes were found on the window sill and Maganov might have stepped out on a balcony not intended as an exit. However, the fact that the incident occurred on a side of the hospital that is currently under renovation and without video surveillance has challenged initial assumptions and has spurred conspiracy theories. As Baza reports, Maganov’s wife was in the next room when the accident happened. No suicide note was found.
The company Lukoil has since confirmed the death of Maganov, but writes in its press statement that the chairman had “passed away following a serious illness.” The Russian news agency TASS cited a law enforcement officer as claiming that Maganov had committed suicide. This, however, is disputed by Reuters, who in turn cited two people close to Maganov that expressed severe doubts about the possibility of a suicide.
While Maganov has been considered one of the most successful businessmen in Russia, earning a lifetime achievement award in 2019, his stance following the invasion of Ukraine in February has given rise to speculations that he had fallen from the government’s good graces. In a statement from March 3rd, the board of directors of Lukoil expressed its “deepest concerns about the tragic events in Ukraine,” hoped for the “soonest termination of the armed conflict,” and expressed its “sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy.”
Lukoil’s position, and therefore that of Maganov, led several news outlets to add his name to a list of eight energy executives that have died under unusual circumstances, including several alleged suicides, over the past months. The BBC even noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting the hospital the very morning that Maganov fell to his death to lay flowers at Mikhail Gorbachev’s coffin, who had earlier died at the same hospital.
While avoiding outright speculation on the cause of death of Maganov, the insinuations are obvious. But until further information reaches the day of light, if that ever happens, such speculations, including on whether Maganov’s stance towards the war in Ukraine would have justified a politically motivated elimination, as some are quick to imply, are moot and the death of Maganov remains a tragedy for his wife and relatives.