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    Editorials
    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    Putin’s critics are dying

    This appeared in the N.Y. Daily News

    Quick, somebody repair the slippery floors and close all the open hospital windows in Moscow. One was obviously responsible for the freak-accident death of Ravil Maganov, the chairman of Russia’s second-largest oil producer, Lukoil. Maganov must have tripped, perhaps on his IV line, before plummeting to his death on Thursday.

    And quick, somebody also check all the apartment windows in Washington, where Dan Rapoport, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin and an open supporter of jailed critic Alexei Navalny, fell out of his luxury apartment building on Aug. 14. But maybe it was suicide; a medical examiner’s report is pending.

    It’s more than windows and floors that demand serious inspection. In and around Russia and the world, people who happen to have inconvenient positions or opinions are winding up dead from freak accidents or suicides or gunshot wounds that Russian officials insist were self-inflicted.

    In January, Leonid Shulman, a former executive at state-owned gas giant Gazprom, was found dead in the bathroom of his cottage near St. Petersburg. Bathrooms have notoriously wet floors, perhaps requiring a new set of regulations to demand they are promptly dried following showers and shaves.

    Russia could also use a blue-ribbon garage safety commission to look into the tragic death of gas executive Alexander Tyulakov in his St. Petersburg-area garage the day after the February invasion of Ukraine.

    In April, former top natural gas executive Sergei Protosenya was found dead along with his wife and daughter in their villa in Spain, with officials saying he killed them before taking his own life.

    In July, Yury Voronov, the CEO and founder of Astra-Shipping, which worked on Arctic contracts for Gazprom, was found dead in his pool and with a gunshot wound in his head. The gun was nearby.

    Perhaps Russia’s FSB, the KGB successor that does Putin’s dirty work, can send mental health counselors to the homes of such individuals to reverse this contagious depression. But at the very least, someone needs to check all the floors. Usually the problem is the floors.

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