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According to a recent report in Newsweek, in 2022 so far, a total of seven prominent Russian businessmen have died under what the outlet described as “strange circumstances.”

  • Sergey Protosenya and his family were found murdered in their Spanish villa.
  • Vladislav Avaev and his family were found in similar conditions, also in Spain, just a day later.
  • Vasily Melnikov and his family were found dead in their home in Russia.
  • Tycoon Mikhail Watford (born Mikhail Tolstosheya) was killed in his home in the UK.
  • Alexander Tyulyakov was found dead at his cottage near St. Petersburg.
  • Leonid Shulman died even before Ukraine was invaded. He was found dead apparently of suicide at his cottage in Leningrad.

Russian billionaire Alexander Subbotin is the latest billionaire to die under strange circumstances. And Alexander’s death might be the strangest of them all. He purportedly died after deadly encounter with a poisonous toad venom.

The Independent reports that Subbotin, was one of the top executives at Russian energy company Lukoil (corporate HQ seen in the photo below) before his death. The death was described as suspected “toad poisoning.” In case you were unaware, toads are the source of a popular hangover cure, a cure that Subbotin reportedly attempted to avail himself of by visiting a local shaman Mytishchi, a city near Moscow.

Dima Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images

The report comes from a Telegram channel called Mash, which reports that the death happened in the basement of the shaman:

“They made an incision on the skin, dripped toad poison there – and after vomiting the patient allegedly got better…And so he came to them once again – to treat a hangover. Suddenly he felt unwell – his heart ached. The owner decided not to call an ambulance, gave Corvalol and put the businessman to sleep in the basement. There the man died. the deceased were just friends.”

Whatever the larger story behind these deaths may be, it’s truly bizarre to read of a prominent businessman dying in such a strange and unusual way – like something out of a mystery novel. Bill Browder is a Russian financier with experience in Russia, and he tells Newsweek that in the case of these deaths, truth may be stranger than fiction:

“There has been enough empirical evidence of assassinations organized by the Kremlin or business rivals in Russia, to make it likely that these were murders and not suicides and other explanations that have been bandied about by the Russian authorities.”

Newsweek also points out that they weren’t able to authenticate the toad venom aspect of the story, and that Russian authorities are reportedly investigating a connection with “Jamaican voodoo rituals” being carried out in the shaman’s basement.

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