Ex-company of Russian oligarch found dead with his wife and child throws doubt on murder-suicide theory, saying he was a 'wonderful family man'

A tourist overlooks the bay in Lloret De Mar, Catalonia, Spain, in April 2022
A tourist overlooks the bay in Lloret De Mar, Catalonia, Spain.Adri Salido/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Sergey Protosenya was found dead in Spain alongside his wife and daughter on Tuesday, police said.

  • Novatek, his former company, cast doubt on a working police theory that Protosenya killed his family and then himself.

  • Novatek said he was a "wonderful family man" and slammed "speculations" on his death.

The former company of a Russian oligarch found dead in Spain along with his wife and child has cast doubt on a prevailing police theory that the deaths were a murder-suicide.

Sergey Protosenya was found hanging in an apartment in Lloret de Mar, a seaside town in Catalonia, Spain, Spanish TV channel Telecinco reported. His wife and daughter were also found dead with stab wounds in the same apartment, the outlet reported.

Murder-suicide is the primary working theory of the Mossos D'Esquadra, the Catalan police body investigating the deaths, a spokesperson from Lloret De Mar's town hall told Insider. The Mossos did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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In a Thursday statement, Novatek, a major Russian natural gas producer, appeared to suggest that the idea that its former employee could be responsible for the deaths bears "no relation to reality."

"Sergey Protosenya ... established himself as an outstanding person and a wonderful family man, a strong professional who made a considerable contribution to the formation and development of the Company," it said.

"Unfortunately, speculations have emerged in the media about this topic, but we are convinced that these speculations bear no relation to reality."

Novatek referred Insider to this statement without further comment when asked whether it was referring to the idea that Protosenya could be responsible for the deaths.

A Google Streetview image of the road outside Sergey Avayev's rented Catalonian villa, dated to 2011
The grounds of Protosenya's rented Catalonian villa, according to local media, as viewed from the road in 2011.Google Streetview

When approached by Insider with the town hall's confirmation that the police were considering the murder-suicide theory, which would put the matter outside of media speculation, the Novatek spokesperson said this was a question for the Mossos.

The Mossos said in a Tuesday statement that it was alerted to the deaths of three people in Lloret De Mar on Tuesday, without naming the victims. A Mossos spokesperson referred to this statement when Insider asked for comment on Protosenya.

Though Protosenya's body was found with a bloodied knife and an ax nearby, there were no bloodstains on his person and no suicide note, Spanish outlet El Punta Vui reported, without citing sources.

El Punta Vui also reported on Thursday that murder-suicide was the police's primary theory for the deaths.

On this basis, the town hall organized a minute's silence on Wednesday in memory of the woman and girl who died, its spokesperson said. Two local equalities ministers, Tània Verge and Irene Montero, also called for unity against gender-based violence, Spanish newspaper La Vangurdia reported.

Protosenya served on Novatek's management board between 1997 and 2015, the company said.

He was retired at the time of his death, and had amassed a fortune of around $440 million, La Vanguardia reported, citing sources close to the family.

People walk past a sign reading 'Novatek' at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, June 2, 2021
People walk past a sign reading 'Novatek' at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, June 2, 2021Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

Catalan police are currently combing the Protosenya family's phone records and security footage from the home, El Punta Vui reported.

The discovery of the Protosenya family's deaths came a day after another Russian oligarch with connections to the energy industry, Vladislav Avayev, was found dead along with his wife and child in his Moscow apartment.

Avayev was the former vice president of Gazprombank and was found dead from gunshot wounds, as were his wife and daughter, on Monday, the Russian state-run news agency Tass reported.

There is no evidence of a connection between the cases, whose similarities have nonetheless sparked intense international interest.

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