The 40-year-old Russian IT multimillionaire and Putin’s man for wiretapping technology, Anton Cherepennikov, was found dead in his Moscow office on Friday. He founded ICS Holding, which included several IT companies, and worked closely with Russia’s FSB intelligence agency. He was considered a key figure in Vladimir Putin‘s repressive apparatus.
The Russian media cited cardiac arrest as the cause of death. Only, at that time, no autopsy had been performed at all. A short time later, Vasily Polonsky, a long-time friend of Anton Cherepennikov, spoke out. He emphasized, “I do not believe that he died of cardiac arrest.”
Cherepennikov’s telecommunications company, Citadel, was often described as a “monopoly on eavesdropping on Russians” and was apparently also instrumental in monitoring the “Yarovaya” law. The 40-year-old employed, among others, specialists trained by the Counterintelligence Service and their relatives.
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Cherepennikov in February for being “the beneficial owner and head of Citadel.”
Anton Cherepennikov‘s death comes in a string of several deaths of Russian oligarchs, businessmen, generals, and officials over the past two years. In an article, Britain’s Sun newspaper listed 40 prominent Russian individuals who had died, some under unexplained circumstances.
Politician Pavel Antov, for example, was found dead last December after speaking out against the Ukraine war, it said. Russian Deputy Minister of Science Pyotr Kucherenko considered an opponent of Putin, died in May shortly after returning from Cuba. A few days ago, the 64-year-old founder of a Russian food delivery service, Igor Kudryakov, was found dead – according to official reports, he had succumbed to cancer.
These are dangerous times for politically exposed Russian individuals.