Michael Weiss writes: Two common causes of death for contemporary Russians are heart attacks and falling to one’s end from great heights. In some cases, these fatal tendencies even have something to do with high cholesterol or tragic mishaps.
In 2008, a clothing salesman called Semyon Korobeinikov lost his footing on a balcony somehow and tumbled to his demise.
A year later, Korobeinikov was named as the purchaser of Universal Savings Bank, a dubious financial institution that had been fingered by investigators as a way-station for stolen Russian money. Only he didn’t buy the bank. It was part of a government ruse to exonerate the true owner, an ex-convict called Dmitry Klyuev, a reputed mob boss implicated in a series of massive tax frauds that cost Russian citizens $1 billion.
Korobeinikov might have therefore borne witness against Klyuev, if he wasn’t conveniently already 6 feet under.
In 2009, in a related case, Russian tax attorney Sergei Magnitsky was beaten to death by eight prison guards, according to a report published by then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s own human rights commission. The Kremlin claimed he died of a coronary. Then it put him on trial posthumously for tax evasion.
The case prompted U.S. anti-corruption and human rights legislation, known as the Magnitsky Law, which put the Russian government under Vladimir Putin on notice that it could not always get away with such abuses.
Magnitsky was killed by a hybridized state-mafia organization for unearthing a $230 million tax fraud perpetrated against the Russian people. The mob had colluded with the same cops supposed to investigate the crime, tax officials who processed it, and a host of compromised judges in various jurisdictions tasked with covering it up. They were all members of the Klyuev Group, and many are now sanctioned under the Magnitsky Law.
In 2012, Alexander Perepilichny, a former member of the Klyuev Group, dropped dead while jogging in his adoptive home of Surrey, England. There was no cause of death stated, but the assumption by the British coroner’s initial finding was that nothing looked suspicious, even though Perepilichny was a healthy 44-year-old with no known chronic or debilitating ailments.
Then Monique Simmonds, a researcher at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, hired by the coroner at the behest of Perepilichny’s life insurance company, uncovered traces of a rare and toxic plant, gelsemium, in the victim’s stomach.
Gelsemium, as it turns out, does not grow in the verdant climes of Surrey. It is only found in China, where it is a favored poison of assassins. Russian hitmen, too, have been known to access the flower’s quiet, lethal capability. [Continue reading…]