Another mystery death in Russia as space chief becomes fourth senior official to die in a matter of DAYS | The Sun

ONE of Vladimir Putin's top engineers has died suddenly aged 74, the latest death among Russia's military and scientific elite this year.

Vladimir Nesterov, who designed the Russian Angara rocket, was accused of massive embezzlement just before his death aged 74.

The man who made Putin's dreams of space exploration possible with the creation of the "world's best" rocket pads was under a cloud of suspicion this year.

Formerly the director of Russia's prestigious Khrunichev Centre, Nesterov was the brains behind the Angara rockets, which Putin hoped to use to pioneer Russian space travel.

Russia's first manned mission to the moon is in development, off the back of Nesterov's designs.

But the later years of his life have been dogged by allegations of fraud and embezzlement.


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The criminal case was first launched in 2014 and led to his being detained under house arrest.

Putin's authorities accused him of pocketing more than £57m as part of the crime.

But his embezzlement case hadn't reached court at the time of his death.

Previously, he was seen internationally as a leader in his field and hailed the Angara as the "world's best" rocket system.

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His cause of death has not been released.

He is the fourth senior Russian official to die in a matter of days and follows a string of deaths of high-profile Putin associates since the start of the war in Ukraine.

On Christmas Day, a Russian tank boss died just hours after a scheduled meeting with Putin.

General Alexei Maslov, 69, suddenly fell ill and died just after Putin axed a visit to the tank firm where he worked in Uralvagonzavod.

Maslov was the former head of the Russian ground forces and an ex-ambassador to Nato – and was reportedly not known to have any health problems before his sudden death.

Putin then suddenly cancelled his visit even as his convoy was in place and the roads had been cleared of snow.

Just days earlier, one of Russia's top naval chiefs also died suddenly aged 65.

Alexander Buzakov was the general director of the Admiralty Shipyards in St Petersburg, in charge of building new submarines for Russia.

Buzakov had been healthy the day before he died, and "nothing had been heard about Maslov's health problems" before he died, according to a Russian Telegram channel claiming to have an insight into the FSB security service.

His death was described as "sudden, untimely and tragic".

And just days ago, a wealthy Putin critic, also 65, was found dead in mysterious circumstances.

Multimillionaire Pavel Antov fell from a hotel window in India where he was travelling for a birthday holiday trip.

He had previously slammed Russia's blitz of Ukraine as "terror", and was one of the most high-profile Russian critics of the invasion.

Previously listed as Russia's richest elected politician in 2019, Indian media reported that the sausage tycoon jumped from the roof.

But Russian consul general in India Alexei Idamkin insisted he had fallen from a window, just days before his 66th birthday.

He was found in a pool of blood at the hotel in Rayagada, Odisha state.

His death followed that of another member of his party, 61-year-old Vladimir Budanov, who also passed away in India last week.

Budanov is said to have died from a heart attack last Thursday.

At least ten rich Russian oligarchs and critics of Putin have died mysteriously this year.

It comes amid rumours Putin is purging his inner circle of critics amid his floundering invasion of Ukraine.

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