Russian vaccine creator becomes latest victim in a string of mysterious murders

The creator of Russia's controversial Sputnik Covid-19 vaccine has reportedly been strangled with a belt following an altercation with an intruder in his Moscow apartment, Russian media reports.

The death of Andrey Botikov, 48, is the latest in a string of mysterious deaths surrounding Russia's elite.

Botikov’s body was found at his home on Thursday (March 2), which showed strangulation marks around his neck, stab wounds, and abrasions, according to reports.

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Following an investigation a 29-year-old man has been arrested and charged with the murder of Botikov, as it is believed he killed the scientist during an argument about money.

In a statement, the Investigative Committee of Russia which launched the enquiry into Botikov’s death said: "During the interrogation, he admitted his guilt, he was charged.

“Previously, the defendant was prosecuted for committing a serious crime.”

Russian media has reported that the suspect previously spent 10 years in prison for providing sexual services.

Botikov was considered one of Russia’s elite having received the Order of Merit for the Fatherland award from President Putin in 2021.

The scientist had worked as a virologist at the Gamaleya National Research Center which created Russia’s Sputnik V Covid vaccine.

Those behind the vaccine claimed it to have 91% efficacy during clinical trials, which is far higher than any other vaccine.

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Botikov’s death is the latest in a string of deaths to fall upon Russia’s elite since the start of Russia's invasion in Ukraine last year.

Last month, a top Russian general, Major General Vladimiar Makarov, 72, died from alleged suicide, a month after being sacked by Putin.

Meanwhile, two Russian energy tycoons, Vyachslav Rovneiko and Boris Yeltsin were similarly found dead in a house in Moscow.

Dmitry Zelenov, another wealthy Russian elite, died from head injuries from falling down the stairs after becoming unwell during a dinner with friends.

Andrei Bralnin, an elected official and former member of Putin’s United Russia party died in custody after being arrested for bribery.

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