ARussian virologist who helped develop the country’s COVID vaccine has been found dead after an altercation with an intruder in his Moscow apartment, according to reports in local media.
Andrey Botikov, one of 18 scientists who developed the Sputnik V vaccine at the Gamaleya National Research Center, was identified as the man who had been discovered strangled in his Rogova Street home on March 2, Regnum reported, citing official sources. It previously reported that he had survived the attack.
The Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) has now opened a murder investigation, believing that a 29-year-old man strangled the scientist with a belt during a disagreement before fleeing the scene.
While official accounts point towards a burglary gone wrong, the 47-year-old’s death comes amid a string of members of the Russian elite being found dead in mysterious circumstances over the past year, including scientists and businessmen.
In a statement, the ICR’s Moscow division didn’t name Botikov, but said investigators had identified and located the assailant “in the shortest possible time.”
“During the interrogation, he admitted his guilt, he was charged,” it added. “Previously, the defendant was prosecuted for committing a serious crime.” The ICR said the criminal investigation was ongoing.
Newsweek has reached out to the ICR to confirm the victim’s identity.