Hunting the Russian Oligarchs 

Since the invasion of Ukraine and European sanctions, the Russian oligarchs have become pariahs. By attacking their assets in Europe and freezing their bank accounts, the EU convinced that this pressure on the oligarchs will, in turn, put pressure on Vladimir Putin to back down. But during the same period, about fifteen Oligarchs have died under strange circumstances. Do they really have the power to influence the Russian President? Or are they just pawns of his ambition? For several months we investigated these oligarchs close to the Kremlin.

To date, more than 1,200 people have been placed under EU sanctions and assets amounting to 17 billion euros frozen. But getting hold of what they really own is often complicated. Most of their assets are hidden in a mirage of shell companies. On the French Riviera, Russian oligarchs have long reigned. Eric’s company used to provide security for many of the villas. His contracts ended with the invasion with the oligarchs claiming they could no longer pay him but he regularly sees other companies gurading the villas. He suspects they are being paid through obscure channels that circumvent European sanctions.

Many Oligarchs, like arms dealer Igor Kesaev, have already bought EU nationality giving them a range of rights. He was able to use his Cypriot nationality to buy a strategic island in Finland which threatens the security of the country.  

But since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, a wave of strange ‘suicides’ among oligarchs is provoking many questions. Sergey Protosenya. Found hanging from a rope in his villa in Spain while his wife and daughter were stabbed. Alexander Subbotin. Poisoned by toad venom. Alexander Tyulyakov. Found hanged. Ravil Maganov, pushed through a window while in hospital. All in all, some fifteen oligarchs have died in a suspicious manner. We speak to the widow of one who recounts why she believes he was murdered.


  • Year: 2022
  • Duration: 52 mins
  • Production: Ligne de Front
  • Director: Vincent Prado
  • Available Versions: ENG, FRA
  • Country of production: France

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