Published On: Mon, May 22nd, 2023
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Russian politician mysteriously dies on flight after blasting Putin’s ‘fascist invasion’ | World | News

A deputy minister who is believed- to be a private critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin‘s war in Ukraine has died after falling ill on a flight from Cuba to Moscow. Russia‘s science and education Pytor Kucherenko was returning from a trip to the Caribbean island when his plane was forced to make an emergency landing in the south of Russia, according to the Russian Federation’s Science and Higher Education Ministry.

Medics tried to revive Mr Kucherenko, 46, but were not able to save him with his family linking his death to an underlying heart condition. Officials are due to carry out an autopsy on May 24, according to reports.

He is survived by his wife Diana Gurtskaya, who represented Georgia in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, and their 15-year-old son, Konstantin.

Journalist Roman Super wrote after news emerged of Mr Kucherenko’s death that the top official had spoken privately in the past about being unable to get out of Russia after what he termed its “fascist” invasion of Ukraine.

The two had reportedly spoken about their plans to leave Russia and the war in Ukraine, which is now approaching its 16th month.

When asked how he was coping in Russia, Mr Kucherenko, according to Mr Super, replied: “I take antidepressants and tranquillisers at the same time. Handfuls. And it doesn’t help much… Nobody can say anything. Immediately crushed like aphids.”

Finnish news website Ilta Sanomat reports officials in Russia‘s Stavropol region as stating one person fell ill on the flight from Havana to Moscow.

The jet plane made an emergency landing at the airport of Mineralnye Vody, a city in the southern part of Russia, where an ambulance was waiting.

Doctors boarded the plane and started CPR, but the person died, according to the same publication, quoting from a statement it says was issued by local health officials.

More than 20 officials and oligarchs have died under mysterious circumstances since the war in Ukraine widened on February 24 last year.

In April, it emerged Igor Shkurko, deputy general director of energy firm Yakutskenergo, was found dead in a cell at a detention centre in Yakutsk, Siberia.

Alexander Tyulyakov, deputy head of corporate security at Gazprom’s United Settlement Centre, allegedly took his own life the day after war was declared.

He died in Gazprom’s guarded Leninsky corporate village near St Petersburg on February 25, 2022.

There were strong suspicions reported at the time that he did not end his life.

Two months later Vladislav Avayev – a vice-president of Gazprombank and former Kremlin official – was found dead in Moscow. He appeared alongside the bodies of his wife Elena, 47, and daughter Maria, 13.

They were discovered by his daughter Anastasia with investigators rapidly concluding Mr Avayev, 51, killed them before taking his own life.

Sergey Protosenya, 55, a former deputy chairman of Novatek, died days after Mr Avayev.

He was found hanged in Spain, after evidently killing his wife Natalia, 53, and their teenage daughter.

Mr Kucherenko’s wife has recorded duets with singers including Demis Roussos and Ray Charles. In 2006, Putin presented her with one of Russia‘s highest state accolades, The Honoured Artist of Russia.

Last year Ms Gurtskaya, who has been visually impaired since birth, was awarded the People’s Artist of the Russian Federation gong.

She migrated to Russia from her native Abkhazia in the early 1990s before shooting to fame in the middle of the same decade.

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