Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin. SPUTNIK via AFP / Mikhail METZEL

Two Russian officials associated with the ruling United Russia party died on the same day, according to local media reports.

Nikolay Bortsov, 77, was a wealthy pro-Putin MP and one of Russia's wealthiest government employees. He died at his home in Lebedyan on Sunday. No reason has yet been revealed behind Bortsov's death.

On the same day, State Duma Deputy Dzhasharbek Uzdenov also passed away after a "serious and prolonged illness," according to a report in Newsweek.

"A hard day. Death snatched another comrade from our ranks. Jasharbek (Dzhasharbek) Borisovich Uzdenov, a deputy of the State Duma, the former Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic died after a severe and prolonged illness," read a statement from Vladimir Vasilyev, head of the United Russia faction.

It needs to be noted that Bortsov had been sanctioned by countries like the UK and the US for his support of the Russian war in Ukraine. Uzdenov, too, had been sanctioned by the US and New Zealand. Bortsov had come under fire after media reports in 2019 claimed that he had secretly obtained the right to live in Britain. However, he later dismissed the report, saying that it was all untrue.

The twin deaths are the latest in a string of such incidents that have been reported in Russia since its invasion of Ukraine last year in February. A number of prominent Russians have died in unexplained circumstances over the last year. A majority of these deaths were deemed accidental, like falling out of windows or down the stairs.

In a similar incident reported in December 2022, a former Russian army chief with ties to Ukraine died "suddenly" at the age of 69, a day after President Putin abruptly cancelled a trip to the general's workplace in Nizhny Tagil region.

The general used to work at the Uralvagonzavod machine-building company. The plant is the world's largest tank manufacturer. According to local media reports, Putin cancelled his trip to the plant on December 25 "at the last minute" without giving any reasons.

Uralvagonzavod officials described the general as a "distinguished commander who made a valiant journey from a platoon commander to the commander-in-chief of the ground forces." But they did not reveal the cause of his death. His death came days after the "sudden death" of a high-ranking navy official who was in charge of submarine building.

In the same month, a Russian businessman and lawmaker named Pavel Antov was found dead in a hotel in the Indian state of Odisha. The multi-millionaire died after falling from the third floor of his hotel in the Rayagada district of the state. He died just two days after his fellow traveller, Vladimir Budanov, also died at the same hotel.

Antov was also a fervent critic of Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. He had criticised Russian attacks on Ukraine but had to retract the statement soon after. He had come under fire for calling the war Russian "terror." He later retracted the statement and made a "grovelling apology." He insisted that he had "always supported the president" and "sincerely" supported Putin's "special military operation" in Ukraine.

He was eventually found lying in a pool of blood outside the hotel while his friend Budanov was found lying unconscious in his room with a few empty wine bottles around him. The investigations into their deaths are still underway.

A third Russian citizen was found dead in the Indian state of Odisha just weeks after Antov's death. The deceased was identified as 51-year-old engineer Milyakov Sergy. He was found dead onboard a cargo ship docked at Paradip Port in Jagatsinghpur district of the state.

He was the captain of the vessel M.B. Aldnah, which was on its way to Mumbai from Chittagong Port in Bangladesh via Paradip. The police believe that he might have died of a heart attack after "suddenly collapsing onboard the ship."