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Russian aviation expert is latest official to die in mysterious circumstances

<i>Moscow Aviation Institute</i><br/>Anatoly Gerashchenko
Moscow Aviation Institute
Anatoly Gerashchenko

By Josh Pennington and Jennifer Hauser, CNN

The former rector to the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) has died, according to a statement from the organization, amid a recent string of mysterious deaths among top Russian officials and executives.

Anatoly Gerashchenko “died in an accident” on September 21 and had served as the institute’s rector from 2007 to 2015, according to MAI’s website.

He spent 45 years of his life at the organization, working his way up the institute and was a “Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor [and] Advisor to the Rector of MAI,” it added.

The institute’s website added that a commission is now formed to investigate the incident, which will include representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science, the State Labour Inspectorate and the MAI.

Gerashchenko is at least the 10th influential Russian to have reportedly died by suicide or in unexplained accidents since late January, with at least six of them associated with Russia’s two largest energy companies.

Four of those six were linked to the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom or one of its subsidiaries, while the other two were associated with Lukoil, Russia’s largest privately owned oil and gas company.

Earlier this year, the company took the unusual public stance of speaking out against Russia’s war in Ukraine, calling for sympathy for the victims, and for an end to the conflict.

Lukoil’s chairman Ravil Maganov died at the beginning of September after falling out of the window of a hospital in Moscow, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

In mid-September, Russian businessman Ivan Pechorin, who is the top manager for the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, was found dead in Vladivostok, according to Russian state media. Pechorin drowned on September 10 near Cape Ignatyev in Vladivostok, regional media reported.

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