Spanish officials are investigating the mysterious deaths of a Russian gas executive, who was found hanged outside his Spanish villa, and his wife and daughter who were both discovered hacked to death inside the property.
Investigators are said to be working on the assumption that Sergey Protosenya, 55, killed the two women with an axe and knife, before taking his own life in the courtyard of his Lloret de Mar villa on Spain’s Costa Brava.
However, local reports said evidence does not conclusively point towards this explanation, as no suicide note was found in the property and it appeared steps had been taken to ensure there were no fingerprints on the murder weapons.
The investigation remains open, officials have said.
The bodies of the trio were found on Tuesday, just one day after another Russian multimillionaire was found dead with his wife and daughter in their Moscow apartment, in another apparent murder suicide involving a gun.
Alongside the body of multimillionaire Vladislav Avayev, 51, was his wife Yelena, 47, and younger daughter Maria, 13. The bodies – all with gunshot wounds – were found by the couple’s distraught adult daughter Anastasia on Monday.
In both cases, the men had connections to Russian gas companies – many of which have faced western sanctions since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine.
Protosenya, who had a fortune of over £330 million, was Deputy Chairman on the Board of Directors for natural gas company Novatek for seven years.
Avayev was previously a vice president at Gazprombank – a bank that was created to work for Russian gas giant Gazprom – and had also been a Kremlin official.
Sergey Protosenya (right), 55, who had a fortune of over £330 million, is believed to have hacked his wife Natalia (centre) and their 18-year-old daughter to death before hanging himself in the courtyard of his Lloret de Mar villa on Spain’s Costa Brava
Protosenya (pictured) was Deputy Chairman on the Board of Directors for natural gas company Novatek for seven years. He is the second Russian this week with links to Russian gas companies to have been involved in an apparent murder suicide
According to reports, Protosenya’s family lived in France but were holidaying a their Spanish when the killings took place. Pictured: Officers are seen outside the holiday home
The Mossos Catalan police force told The Daily Telegraph that investigators are working with the hypothesis that Protosenya killed his wife and daughter with an axe and a knife inside the holiday home as they were asleep in their beds.
He then hanged himself from railings outside the villa, the newspaper reported.
However, according to local publication El Punt Avui, the evidence does not conclusively point to deaths being a domestic violence incident.
The Spanish news website reported that investigators found no suicide note at the property. And while initial reports suggested Protosenya used an axe and knife to kill the two women, no blood was found on his body.
It added that investigators discovered blood-stained socks on the floor of the mother’s room, suggesting that the killer had put them on as gloves – possibly to avoid leaving fingerprints at the scene, or on the weapons.
Spanish police are now waiting for the results of an autopsy, and were checking the villa’s CCTV cameras to determine if anyone from outside the family entered the property around the time of the murders.
Pictured: Russian gas tycoon Sergey Protosenya, his wife Natalya, 53. The pair were found dead in Spain on Tuesday, along with their 18-year-old daughter
Protosenya and his wife Natalia, 53, had two children together, the 18-year-old victim and a teenage son who was in France at the time of the alleged killing spree
The family’s son called Catalan police on Tuesday when he was unable to contact his family members for. Officers checked on the villa and found Protosenya dead in the courtyard of the house after apparently committing suicide. Pictured: A forensic investigator at the house
According to reports, Protosenya’s family lived in France but were holidaying in Spain when the killings took place.
The businessman and his wife Natalia, 53, had two children together, the 18-year-old victim and a teenage son who was in France at the time of the alleged killing spree.
The teen son called the Catalan police on Tuesday when he was unable to contact any of his family members. Officers checked on the villa and found Protosenya dead in the courtyard after apparently committing suicide.
The police then found the dead bodies of his wife and teen daughter in the house.
Protosenya and his family flaunted their luxurious lifestyle on social media. They enjoyed golf and travelling all over the world, often sharing images of their apparently idyllic life with netizens.
The family were found just a day after the body of ex-Kremlin official Vladislav Avayev was discovered, along with his wife and daughter, in Moscow.
The trio all died from gunshot wounds, and were found by the couple’s distraught adult daughter Anastasia when she went to the apartment after she found she was unable to reach anyone from her family.
Russian Investigators said they are keeping an open mind on the 14th floor massacre, carried out ‘with Avayev’s pistol’, and looking into any links to his work and personal life. Anastasia told officers that the gun had been in her father’s hand when she found his body, reports said.
Avayev previously worked as a high-flying executive at Gazprombank, a key part of Vladimir Putin’s gas-for-roubles scheme to hit back at Western sanctions – in which Putin demanded foreign companies open an account with the bank.
The 51-year-old had left the privately run bank as vice-president, but it was unclear if he retained connections to it.
Former Kremlin official and Gazprombank vice-president – Vladislav Avayev (pictured) – was found dead in his £2 million Moscow apartment by his 26-year-old daughter on Monday
Alongside the body of multimillionaire Vladislav Avayev, 51, was his ‘pregnant’ wife Yelena (pictured), 47, and younger daughter Maria, 13
The bodies – all with gunshot wounds – were found by the couple’s distraught adult daughter Anastasia (pictured), when she opened the apartment after failing to reach her family
Earlier he had been deputy head of a major department in Putin’s Kremlin administration. He was wealthy from his construction company.
One theory is that there had been jealousy after Yelena was found to be five months pregnant by her husband’s driver.
However, reports are ambiguous as to whether the dead woman was pregnant.
Other accounts suggest the wealthy ex-banker had discovered his wife was having an affair, and the driver had resigned.
Separately there were claims the couple had been involved in a court dispute regarding financial matters.
But investigation sources say they are probing a number of leads.
A total of 13 weapons were found in the luxury flat, which had been locked from the inside, according to Anastasia.
A neighbour called Kristina said: ‘I heard three shots and shouting. A woman was screaming. Then two more shots were fired. No-one else was screaming.
Pictured: Still grabs from a video purportedly showing the crime scene inside Avayev’s apartment in Moscow
Pictured: A general view of Avayev’s apartment building in Moscow
Pictured: People visit a branch of Gazprombank in Moscow, Russia (file photo). Vladislav Avayev had recently left his role as a vice president in the bank – Russia’s third largest
‘I looked out the window – I thought it was fireworks… It turned out they weren’t, my mother told me it was definitely gunshots.’
A female neighbour 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,’ she said.
Another female neighbour said: ‘He was a smart man, almost the head of Gazprombank. I had seen him – he did not look like a maniac. He was a nerd.
‘He had no reason to do that. He was rich, smart. There’s no way a man like that could kill. Maybe Avayev and his family were killed.
‘So what does that mean? A man with a gun broke into our house, and no one stopped him? How are we supposed to sleep now?’
Gazprombank is one of the main channels for payments for Russian oil and gas, and in March, Putin demanded that foreign countries must open accounts with the bank in order to pay for Russian gas – in retaliation against western sanctions.
Gazprombank would then convert euros or dollars into roubles.
Putin had initially said foreign countries must pay for Russian energy in Roubles in a bid to save the country’s failing economy, a stance that he later softened on.
Novatek – Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer – has also been subject to western sanctions since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine.