Russian COVID Vaccine Creator Found Strangled to Death With Belt

Telegram / Investigative Committee of Russia
Telegram / Investigative Committee of Russia

A prominent scientist who helped develop Russia’s COVID vaccine, Sputnik V, was killed in his apartment in Moscow on Thursday, according to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.

Andrey Botikov, who worked as a senior researcher at the Gamaleya National Research Center for Ecology and Mathematics, was found dead in his apartment on Thursday. His death is being investigated as a murder, the committee said in a Telegram statement.

“According to the investigation, on March 2, 2023, in an apartment building located on Rogova Street in Moscow, a 29-year-old young man, during an argument, strangled the 47-year-old owner of the apartment with a belt and fled the scene,” the committee said in a statement on Friday.

A suspect was arrested shortly after Botikov’s body was found, the federal investigative agency said in the statement. “In the shortest possible time, the location of the attacker was established. During the interrogation, he admitted his guilt, he was charged. Previously, the defendant was prosecuted for committing a serious crime.”

Russian media has identified the suspect as “Alexei Z,” a former convict who spent 10 years in prison on charges of providing sex services. Local media reports, including from Russia’s Mash outlet, said that the incident appeared to have been the result of a money dispute between the scientist and the suspect.

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“The body of the 48-year-old man was found… with strangulation marks, several stab wounds and abrasions were found on his body,” Mash reported.

Botikov was one of 18 scientists who developed the Sputnik V vaccine in 2020. According to The Moscow Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin had honored the virologist with the Order of Merit for the Fatherland award for his work on the COVID vaccine in 2021.

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