'Russian Elon Musk' Raped and Tortured to Death in Custody
Independent - A broken spine, signs of electric torture, asphyxiation, knife wounds and rape – these were just a few of the grim and unexpected findings of an official medical report into the death of a Russian inventor in pretrial custody.
Valery Pshenichny, 56, was jailed in January after being accused of embezzling 100m rubles (£1.1m) in a defence contract to develop 3D submarine models. Just three weeks later, his body was found hanging from an improvised lace noose in his St Petersburg prison cell.
Prison authorities initially insisted it was suicide, but friends of the businessman sensed something was up. Perhaps he had been driven to a heart attack, they suggested, and then denied treatment. The “strong” and “clear headed” inventor was not an obvious candidate to take his own life. His wife also wondered how a lace appeared inside the prison from a hoodie she couldn’t remember.
Surprisingly, authorities have agreed foul play was involved, and have signalled a dramatic departure in their investigation by reportedly collecting DNA samples from prison guards.
The apparent brutality of Pshenichny’s case has already brought comparisons with another Russian prison scandal, the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in November 2009. The lawyer had called out a massive VAT ruse conducted by tax officials but was instead imprisoned for his troubles. He died in pretrial custody in excruciating pain after being deliberately and repeatedly denied medical treatment.
Magnitsky’s boss, the exiled billionaire Bill Browder, has since accused a number of high ranking officials in the Russian government of being directly responsible for his death.
Like Sergei Magnitsky, Pshenichny’s problems began when he accused another of fraud. In this case, it was a former business partner, Andrei Petrov, who the entrepreneur accused of stealing company money. A criminal case and arrest followed in 2016. But in the course of the ensuing trial, Mr Petrov successfully managed to turn the tables. It was, instead, Valery Pshenichny who was found guilty of fraud and inflating the cost of a defence contract.
Friends have described Pshenichny as a “Russian Elon Musk.” His work in 3D modelling was groundbreaking and had potential application in the remote repair of submarines. The disputed multimillion ruble contract he signed with the ministry of defence to was expected to be followed by contracts in the oil and gas industry. Pshenichny had reportedly even prepared a patent application, but he would die before ever having a chance to submit it.
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