Mapped: Where nine Russian diplomats have died unexpectedly in the last year and a half

Around the world in nine Russian officials.
Around the world in nine Russian officials.
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Being a Russian diplomat seems to be bad for your health. When Migayas Shirinsky, ambassador to Sudan, was found dead (paywall) in his residency’s swimming pool in Khartoum on Aug. 23, he became the ninth Russian foreign official to surprisingly pass away since January 2016.

Here’s the full roster. However, before getting carried away with conspiracy theories, bear in mind that a lot of these are old, Russian men (paywall)—not a group with a long life expectancy:

Igor Sergun, head of the GRU (military intelligence)

Age: 58

Date: January 4th, 2016

Location: Unknown

Cause of death: Unclear. The Russian defense ministry didn’t say (paywall) where or how he died. The Financial Times, citing Western intelligence sources, said he had recently been sent (paywall) to Syria to ask president Bashar al-Assad to step down; the Kremlin denied making such a request. Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis site, cited an unidentified source saying Sergun had died in Lebanon.

Sergei Krivov, security officer at Russia’s UN mission

Age: 63

Date: November 8th, 2016

Location: New York, USA

Cause of death: Unclear. Initial reports said Krivov fell from the roof of the embassy; this was then changed to a heart attack. The police reports said Krivov had a head wound, but the medical examiner’s office said it found no evidence of that. A joint-NYPD and FBI investigation deemed the death not suspicious.






Andrey Karlov, ambassador to Turkey

Age: 62

Date:  December 19th, 2016

Location: Ankara, Turkey

Cause of death: Shot dead by a gunman in an art gallery, in what Russian officials dubbed a terrorist attack (paywall). The assassin shouted, “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” after shooting the ambassador.

Petr Polshikov, senior foreign ministry official

Age: 56

Date: December 19th, 2016

Location: Moscow, Russia

Cause of death: Shot dead in his Moscow apartment hours before Karlov was assassinated in Ankara. Russian officials said the death was not related to his work as a chief advisor to the ministry’s Latin America department. (It’s unclear if he was still working for the ministry when he was killed.)

Roman Skrylnikov, official in Kazakhstan consulate

Age: Unknown

Date: December 26th, 2016

Location: Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan

Cause of death: Heart attack, but officials were investigating other possibilities (link in Russian). Skrylnikov was found dead in his apartment; his body showed no signs of being attacked.



Andrey Malanin, head of consular affairs, Greek embassy

Age: 55

Date: January 9th, 2017

Location: Athens, Greece

Cause of death: Unclear. Malanin was found dead in his apartment with the door locked on the inside and no signs of a break-in. Greek officials said he seemed to have died of “natural causes” but were investigating.

Alexander Kadakin, ambassador to India

Age: 67

Date: January 26, 2017

Location: New Delhi, India

Cause of death: Died in hospital after a “short illness.”

Vitaly Churkin, UN ambassador

Age: 64

Date: February 20th, 2017

Location: New York, USA

Cause of death: Unclear. US authorities can’t release autopsy results under international law. An anonymous New York City source said it was a heart attack with no foul play.

Migayas Shirinsky, ambassador to Sudan

Age: Early sixties

Date: August 23rd, 2017

Location: Khartoum, Sudan

Cause of death: Unknown. Died while swimming.