A former Kremlin official and Gazprombank vice-president was found dead alongside his wife and 13-year-old daughter in his palatial $2.5 million Moscow apartment. Multimillionaire Vladislav Avayev, 51, and his family's bodies were discovered by their 26-year-old daughter, according to police.
Anastasia, the couple's heartbroken adult daughter, discovered the bodies, all of which had gunshot wounds, after she unlocked the apartment after being unable to contact her family. Russian intelligence has started an investigation into the deaths with early reports suggesting it was a double murder and suicide. According to Anastasia, a total of 13 weapons were discovered in the luxurious property, which had been locked from the inside.
Horrifying Murder Suicide
Russian intelligence believes that Avayev and his family's death is a case of murder suicide but they haven't yet ruled out chances of foul play. Anastasia broke open the door of her family's apartment after she failed to contact them. On entering she found her father, Avayev, mother Yelena, 47, and her younger sister Maria, 13 dead.
Yelena was reportedly pregnant at the time of her murder, according to Anastasia, who told police that the gun was in her father's hand when she found his body.
Investigators said they are keeping an open mind on the 14th floor massacre, carried out 'with Avayev's pistol', and investigating any links to his work and personal life.
Avayev previously worked as a high-ranking official at Gazprombank, which was a significant part of Vladimir Putin's gas-for-roubles program, in which the Russian president insisted that foreign corporations open an account with the bank in response to Western sanctions.
Avayev had resigned as vice-president of the privately held bank, although it was unclear whether he still had ties to it.
Avayev's mysterious death comes amid reports that Putin has taken a tough stance against several of his present and past allies and officials, including putting many in prison, in the wake of the massive losses suffered by his forces in the war against Ukraine.
It is still unclear if Avayev's death has any links to that. Avayev had previously served as the deputy head of a key department in Putin's administration. His construction enterprise had made him wealthy.
However, there are other theories also floating surrounding the death of the Avayev family. One theory is that there was jealousy after Yelena's husband's driver discovered her to be five months pregnant.
However, it is unclear whether the deceased woman was pregnant although reports claim she was.
According to other versions, the affluent ex-banker realized his wife was having an affair and resigned. Separately, it was reported that the couple had been involved in a legal battle over money.
However, sources close to the investigation said they are following up on a number of leads.
According to a neighbor, she heard gunshots that killed the three but didn't suspect anything suspicious. "I heard three shots and shouting. A woman was screaming. Then two more shots were fired. No-one else was screaming," she said.
"I looked out the window - I thought it was fireworks... It turned out they weren't, my mother told me it was definitely gunshots."
Another neighbor, also a woman, said, "Perhaps this was because of the sanctions - everyone is depressed, some are willing to go to extreme measures." She said sanctions and the economic downturn may have hit his business. "They possibly put him in debt and he decided to shoot himself," the neighbor said.