Ravil Maganov, the chairman of Russia's second-largest oil producer Lukoil LKOH.MM, died on Thursday after falling from a hospital window in Moscow, two sources familiar with the situation said, becoming the latest in a series of businessmen to meet with sudden unexplained deaths.
The sources confirmed reports by several Russian media that the 67-year-old had plunged to his death, but the circumstances surrounding his fall were unclear.
Two people who knew Maganov well told Reuters they believed it was highly unlikely he had committed suicide.
Another source close to the company said there was a belief inside Lukoil management that he had killed himself, but he had not seen evidence or documents to support that.
Asked by Reuters if they were investigating the death as suspicious, Moscow police referred the question to the state's Investigative Committee. The Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lukoil said in a statement that Maganov had "passed away following a serious illness."
"Lukoil's many thousands of employees mourn deeply for this grievous loss and express their sincere condolences to Ravil Maganov's family," it said.
Several other senior executives with ties to Russia's energy industry have died suddenly in unclear circumstances in the past few months.
The day after Russia sent its forces into Ukraine in February, a Gazprom executive, Alexander Tyulakov, was found dead in his garage near St Petersburg, Russian media reported.
In April, Sergei Protosenya, a former top manager of Russia's largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek NVTK.MM, was found dead with his wife and daughter at a villa in Spain. Catalan regional police, investigating the case, have said they believe he killed them and then took his own life.
In May, Russian media reported a former Lukoil manager, Alexander Subbotin, was found dead in the basement of a house outside Moscow.
The same month, Russian media said that Vladislav Avayev, an ex-vice president of Gazprombank, was found dead in a Moscow apartment, also with the bodies of his wife and daughter.
Maganov had worked in Lukoil since 1993, shortly after the company's inception, and had overseen its refining, production and exploration, becoming chairman in 2020. His brother Nail is the head of mid-sized Russian oil producer Tatneft TATN.MM.
Unusually among Russian companies, Lukoil took a stand over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine. In a March 3 statement, the company's board of directors expressed its concern over the "tragic events" in Ukraine and called for the "soonest possible end to armed conflict" via negotiations.
Maganov was a close associate of one of Lukoil's founders, Vagit Alekperov, and frequently took part in meetings of Russian oil producers and the energy ministry to decide on joint actions as part of the OPEC+ group of leading global oil producers.
Alekperov, a former Soviet deputy oil minister, resigned as president of Lukoil in April, a week after Britain imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on him as part of sanctions over Russia's military actions in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Reuters; writing by Mark Trevelyan, editing by Alexandra Hudson)