Russian official killed after ‘flying down staircases’ at Putin-linked institute

A Russian aviation scientist has died, becoming one of many senior officials to pass away under "mysterious" circumstances in the country in recent months.

Anatoly Gerashchenko, 73, a former chief of the Moscow Aviation Institute, tumbled down “several flights of stairs” to his death, Russian news outlets have reported.

Mr Gerashchenko had been the rector of the organisation from 2007 to 2015 and had more than 50 scientific publications to his name.

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Following his exit in 2015 he had stayed on as an advisor to his successor where he is understood to have continued to have been influential.

His death is one of a long line of recent chiefs from the energy and science sectors to perish in Russia under questionable circumstances.

Mr Gerashchenko died at the Moscow Aviation Institute – which has links to Vladimir Putin’s defence ministry – with a report claiming he “fell from a height, flying down several flights of stairs”.

Life, a news outlet controlled by Vladimir Putin's reported lover Alina Kabaeva, 39, said the conditions of Mr Gerashchenko’s death were mysterious.

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The publication said the boffin had “died under mysterious circumstances”.

“The scientist received injuries incompatible with life,” said one report.

“The doctors who arrived at the scene could not save the professor.”

However, the aviation institute itself said the death was “an accident”, despite checks from law enforcement being underway.

A statement from the institute, which provided recruits to both Russia’s armed forces and defence ministry, conceded that: “A commission is being formed to investigate his death, which will include representatives of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, the State Labor Inspectorate in Moscow, and the Moscow Aviation Institute.”

Mr Gerashchenko was a recipient of the coveted Russian Medal of the Order for Services to the Fatherland, First Class.

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