A Russian general ‘who knew secrets of Putin’s £1billion Black Sea palace’ has died mysteriously in jail.
According to Mail Online, General Gennady Lopyrev, 69, suddenly became ill on Monday and was told by doctors he had previously undiagnosed leukaemia.
There are now suspicions he was poisoned just as he became eligible for parole.
The general was jailed for ten years in 2017 by a military court accused of bribe-taking and illegal possession of ammunition, charges he always denied.
While serving in the Federal Protection Service [FSO], he personally oversaw the construction of Putin’s gargantuan clifftop Gelendzhik Palace, a private residence allegedly built with state cash.
He was also responsible for the dictator’s official residence Bocharov Ruchei in Sochi.
Up to his jailing, he had been one of Putin’s closest security aides, and was seen with the Russian president and then British premier Tony Blair in Moscow in 2002.
It comes as another Russian general, who led the invasion of Ukraine until he was purged by Putin, also met a suspiciously sudden end this week.
Having been healthy on Sunday when he spoke to his son Alexander, Gen Lopyrev suddenly became ill on Monday complaining of speaking and breathing difficulties, reported Telegram channel VChK-OGPU.
‘He could not breathe and had a hoarse voice,’ said the channel likening the symptoms to those of Putin foe Alexei Navalny who was poisoned with nerve agent Novichok.
Lopyrev was taken on Monday from penal colony number 3 in Ryazan region to two hospitals.
He told his son Alexander by phone: ‘I was taken to Skopin [hospital] first, and they found nothing conclusive.
‘Now they brought me to Ryazan regional hospital, and said I had leukaemia.’
The son said: ‘But isn’t leukaemia a cancer… Surely it couldn’t catch you in just two days?’
Speaking to the media, Alexander said: ‘I also spoke to the chief of their medical unit, who said his heart check returned normal, and lungs were clear.
‘It is hard to say what exactly happened. We were getting ready to apply for his parole, because it was time [to apply]… And now this call [to say he had died].
‘It’s all very strange, and way too fast.’
His father was extremely fit and routinely practised gymnastics while in the penal colony, Alexander claimed.
‘Everything was fine on Sunday,’ he said. ‘We had a chat via a payphone, there wasn’t a single complaint about his health.
‘His voice was energetic, he spoke about his usual sports like gymnastics and stretching. Every day he walked 15km [9 miles].
‘On Monday he called with his voice suddenly sounding hoarse. By evening on Monday… he called from [hospital in] Ryazan, saying he felt really unwell…he said he struggled to breathe.’
Viktor Boborykin, chairman of the Public Monitoring Commission for the region, said there was ‘nothing criminal’ in his death.
Navalny had earlier identified Gen Lopyrev as being responsible for Gelendzhik and knowing all the secrets of its funding.
Putin’s Black Sea palace includes a pole-dancing hookah boudoir, casino, and ‘aqua disco’.
It has a 16-storey underground complex which has been compared with the lair of a James Bond villain.