Two weeks after Russia’s unmanned Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the Moon one of Russia’s top space scientists has allegedly been fatally poisoned by mushrooms. Professor Vitaly Melnikov was working as head of rocket and space systems at RSC Energia, Russia’s biggest rocket builder, when the Luna-25 crashed while trying to make what would have been the Russian space programme’s first soft lunar landing. Melnikov became ill soon afterwards – as a result, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper said, of consuming inedible mushrooms. His death was reported on Thursday. Before that another space scientist who may have been more closely involved in the Luna mission, Mikhail Marov, was rushed to hospital following a “sharp deterioration” in his health after the crash. Marov is 90. Melnikov was 77. Both were of an age when illness can strike suddenly, but chronology is key. Either both were unlucky at the same time, or Putin is becoming ever more short-tempered, or his fearful aides are ever more anxious to impress him with heads on plates. LBC lists 32 mysterious deaths of high-profile Russians since the invasion of Ukraine.
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