A former Putin ally and top aviation expert has died in Moscow, becoming the latest of the Russian president’s associates to meet his end in a mysterious fashion since the start of the war in Ukraine. Anatoly Gerashchenko, the former rector of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI), died after reportedly falling down a series of flights of stairs on Tuesday.

He was 73 years old. A Russian channel on the messaging app Telegram, quoting the MAI, said: “This morning, 73-year-old Anatoly Gerashchenko fell from a height, flying [down] several flights of stairs.”

It added: “The scientist received injuries incompatible with life. The doctors who arrived at the scene could not save the professor.” The post went on to say that Gerashchenko had more recently served as an adviser to the current MAI rector, Mikhail Poghosyan.


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Gerashchenko had worked at the MAI since 1977 after graduating with a degree in electrical engineering. Working as an engineer and later chief mechanic, he rose through the ranks and was elected rector of the institute between 2007 and 2015.

Russian state media agency TASS reports that the university is looking into the death. “Currently, a commission is being formed to investigate this fact, which will include representatives of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, the State Labour Inspectorate and the Moscow Aviation Institute,” it said.

Gerashchenko is rumored to have fallen out with Putin’s inner circle, leading to him being forced from his position as rector seven years ago. Speaking to the publication Novye Izvestia in 2015, a previous rector of the MAI Yuri Ryzhov claimed there had been “a raider takeover of the institute”.

He is alleged to have been pushed out by Dmitry Livanov, Putin’s Minister of Education and Science at the time. Livanov is now directly involved in Putin’s war in Ukraine as a special representative on trade and economic relations.

Gerashchenko’s is the latest mysterious death of a former Putin ally in recent months, as rumors spread that mad Vlad is purging his inner circle. Earlier this month, Ivan Pechorin – Putin’s point man for developing Russia’s vast Arctic resources, reportedly fell off the side of a boat in waters close to Russky Island in mysterious circumstances. READ MORE

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