Vladimir Putin’s former chief space engineer – an accused embezzler – has died at the age of 74, the fourth person to die in the Russian president’s orbit in a week.
Vladimir Nesterov was the former general director of the Khrunichev State Research and Space Production Center and led the development of Russia’s Angara rocket.
the Russian state news agency TASS Nesterov’s death was reported on Wednesday, citing information confirmed by the press service of the Khrunichev Center.
The cause and manner of Nesterov’s death were not disclosed
Nesterov resigned as president of the rocket manufacturer in August 2012 after two satellites exploded in a failed launch of the Russian Proton-M rocket, but continued to work on Angara development as chief engineer.
In 2014, after the successful launch of the Angara rocket, Nesterov left the agency. Around the same time, he was accused of widespread fraud and embezzlement.
In November 2020, Nesterov was criminally charged with embezzling more than $72 million from the state.
According to investigations, in 2006, a year after becoming the head of the Khrunichev Center, Nesterov allowed an American company called Space Transport Inc. to sell its shares in Russia, which his agency later bought at a higher price.
The case was still making its way through the courts at the time of Nesterov’s death.
The demise of the rocket scientist comes just days after Alexander Buzhakov, the head of Russia’s renowned naval shipyards specializing in building non-nuclear submarines, died suddenly at the age of 65.
The Telegram channel “Redacted” reported that Buzakov had been completely healthy the day before.
On Christmas Day, General Alexei Maslov, commander of the Russian Ground Forces between 2004 and 2008, died suddenly in a military hospital. He was 69 years old.
The Telegram channel reported that “nothing was heard of Maslov’s health problems” prior to his death.
After retiring from the army, Maslov worked as a representative of the Uralvagonzavod tank manufacturer, which Putin was scheduled to visit on Christmas Eve. He canceled the trip at the last minute without giving any explanation.
On Sunday, Russian sausage tycoon and politician Pavel Antov died in a fall From a luxury hotel in Rayagada, India, where he was celebrating his 66th birthday.
Three days earlier, Antov’s friend Vladimir Bidenov died at the same hotel after he was found lying unresponsive in his room filled with empty wine bottles.
Superintendent of Police Vivekananda Sharma said Bidenov had suffered a stroke and his friend “got depressed after his death and died too”. BBC reported.
In July, Antov, who earned an estimated $156 million a year from his sausage-making venture, according to Forbes, criticized Russia’s missile attacks on Kyiv, calling them “acts of terrorism.”
He later issued a humiliating apology, claiming that the letter had been posted by someone else, and insisting that he supported the president and “shared his goals” for the invasion.
This year has seen a series of high-profile Russian businessmen and people associated with Putin killed in mysterious circumstances.
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