One of the creators of Russia’s Covid vaccine has been found brutally strangled to death in his Moscow apartment, in the latest mystery murder surrounding the country’s elite.
Andrey Botikov, 48, a top Russian scientist who developed the Sputnik V vaccine, was reportedly murdered with a belt during an altercation with an intruder in his home, The Sun reports.
His body was found at his home in Moscow on Thursday, Russian media reported.
He had strangulation marks on his neck, as well as stab wounds and abrasions on his body.
The Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) has now opened a murder investigation into the death.
A 29-year-old man has been arrested and charged with killing the leading virologist during a row over money.
Russian media has identified the suspect as “Alexei Z”, and described him as a former convict who spent 10 years in prison on charges of providing sexual services.
In a statement, the ICR didn’t name Botikov, but said investigators had identified and located a suspect “in the shortest possible time”.
“During the interrogation, he admitted his guilt, he was charged,” the ICR went on.
“Previously, the defendant was prosecuted for committing a serious crime.”
Botikov had worked as a virologist at the Gamaleya National Research Center since 2014, helping create Russia’s Sputnik V Covid vaccine.
Vladimir Putin’s scientists hailed the vaccine as having a 91 per cent efficacy during clinical trials, far higher than other Covid vaccines.
For his work, Botikov was honoured by Putin with the Order of Merit for the Fatherland award in 2021.
Botikov’s death is the latest mystery fate to befall a member of Russia’s leading scientific and political elite since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Last month, a former Putin spy and an ally of the Russian President were found dead hours apart in separate incidents in Russia.
The body of Vyacheslav Rovneiko, 59, who founded Russian energy giant Urals Energy with the son-in-law of Putin’s predecessor Boris Yeltsin, was discovered at his house outside of Moscow late at night.
Hours later, it was announced that a former politician in Putin’s United Russia party on trial for bribery had died in custody.
Andrei Bralnin, an elected official in the town of Kotlas in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, was awaiting trial for allegedly taking bribes.
Also in February, a top Russian general was found shot dead, just a month after he was sacked by Vladimir Putin.
Major General Vladimir Makarov, 72, was found dead at his home near Moscow from an alleged suicide following his axing from his job combating “extremism” for Russia’s Interior Ministry.
This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission