Russian commander who once criticised Putin mysteriously found dead
He previously criticised Putin for allowing a 'third-ranking' air force.
A former Russian air commander who heavily criticised Vladimir Putin has been found dead at home alongside his wife – but their cause of death is a complete mystery.
Lieutenant-General Vladimir Sviridov, 68, and his wife Tatyana, 72, had already been dead for around a week when they were discovered.
‘What caused the death of Vladimir and Tatyana Sviridov is still unknown,’ an official report said after their bodies were found in the village of Adzhievsky in Russia’s Stavropol region.
‘Gas service workers have already taken measurements and no excess of the permissible concentration of harmful substances has been detected.’
The highly-decorated military chief had previously made a series of scathing comments about Putin for allowing a ‘third-ranking’ air force.
He had once warned the Russian president that top officers were leaving the armed forces because of dire pay and conditions.
Lt Gen Sviridov commanded the 6th Army of the Russian Air Force and Air Defence from 2005 to 2009 in an appointment made by Putin.
But before he left the role aged 54, he hit out at the way Russia’s armed forces were operating.
In one interview, he warned: ‘A pilot must have about 100 hours of flight time per year for full combat readiness.
‘However, this is not yet the case. The average flight time in the army is currently 25-30 hours.’
And in another, he complained: ‘We are forced to appoint not fully trained officers because there are no better ones.
‘For the same reason we are sending to military academies third-ranking pilots. This did not happen in the past.’
During his service, Lt Gen Sviridov was awarded the Order of the Red Star, a clutch of medals and became an honoured Pilot of Russia – he had served as a military sniper pilot earlier in his career.
Low salaries and poor housing provision meant experienced officers were leaving the military as soon as they could, according to Lt Gen Sviridov.
‘One in two of our officers, unfortunately, has no accommodation,’ he said. ‘Up to 10 per cent of young officers are doing everything possible to retire early.’
He told Putin to ‘create normal living conditions for young officers, as well as for all servicemen, so that they can properly perform their service duties’.
Russia has been hit by a spate of suspicious deaths since the start of Putin’s war against Ukraine, with many linked to the energy sector.
In September, a top Russian space scientist died after he was ‘poisoned by mushrooms’.
Earlier this year, a Russian general who knew the ‘secrets’ of the dictator’s £1billion palace died suddenly in jail just as he became eligible for parole, while a military chief who briefly led the Ukraine invasion was also found dead at the age of 58.
Earlier this year, multi-millionaire Russian MP Nikolay Bortsov, 77, who had links to the UK, was mysteriously found dead on the same day as fellow politician Dzhasharbek Uzdenov, 56.
One Russian oligarch even died last year after ‘shamans’ reportedly gave him toad venom to cure his hangover – but his cause of death was recorded as a heart attack.
Perhaps most prominently, the mercenary leader of the Wagner Group paramilitary force, Yevgeny Prigozhin, 62, was one of 10 people killed in a plane crash in August, alongside his right-hand man and co-founder Dmitry Utkin, 53.
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