Investigators have confirmed that the pilot who was flying the helicopter that crashed in Russia, killing everyone on board, including a high-ranking prosecutor who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton to the Trump Campaign, was shot twice before crashing the rotorcraft.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Saak Karapetyan was killed when his AS-350 helicopter crashed in Kostroma region northeast of Moscow last Wednesday.
All four occupants died during the crash, which was originally blamed on the helicopter being “overloaded,” but now two bullets have been found in the pilot’s body following an autopsy.
Russia’s investigating authorities are now accused of attempting to cover-up the pilot’s gunshot wounds along with evidence of gunshot damage to the helicopter.
Karapetyan, a long-time ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was connected to Moscow’s alleged offers of “dirt” on Clinton to Donald Trump’s election campaign.
The mysterious “dirt” was offered to Trump officials during the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting via the glamorous lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, in 2016.
The information Russia claimed to have on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was reportedly provided by Prosecutor Karapetyan’s office.
According to the Daily Mail, 43-year-old lawyer Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
Veselnitskaya led a pro-Moscow campaign to overturn anti-corruption laws imposing sanctions on key senior Russian officials and organizations.
The US Magnitsky Act, signed into law by then-President Barack Obama in 2012, authorizes the government to sanction Russian human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the US.
While overturning the law would have been Veselnitskaya’s main aim, leaked emails saw her claim that she had dirt on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, allegedly given to her by Karapetyan’s Prosecutor-General’s Office.
Before his death this week, Karapetyan had been in charge of the Russian criminal investigations into the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.
He also led the investigation into the deaths of Putin’s foe Boris Berezovsky, and dissident Alexander Litvinenko – which both took place on UK soil.
There are also extraordinary claims he was a channel of leaks to British, US and Swiss secret services.
Russian critics have claimed that all three of Karapetyan’s criminal probes into the Skripal, Berezovsky and Litvinenko cases were aimed at masking Moscow’s involvement in each case.
The shooting allegation is expected to increase speculation that the leading prosecutor was assassinated.
The official version is that the “overloaded” helicopter crashed after clipping trees in Kostroma region, killing Karapetyan, his nephew Areg Arutyunyan, 47, pilot Stanislav Mikhnov, and another passenger Viktor Kopteev, 54.
But respected Moscow journalist Sergei Dorenko has bluntly accused the investigating authorities of a cover-up in seeking to hide two bullet wounds to highly experienced 54-year-old pilot – and gunshot damage to the copter’s blade.
The claim that Mikhnov was shot immediately before the helicopter crash was made by Dorenko’s Govorit Moskva radio station and promptly denied by the Investigative Committee (IC) – in charge of probing serious crime.
Dorenko retorted: “We have the official version that the pilot mistakenly touched the trees and the helicopter fell to the ground.
“But in fact, I suppose that the pilot was good and did not touch any trees.
“He did not take off at all.
“He was shot with two bullets in the back before this.”
This leaves the possibility that someone else was at the controls when the helicopter took off and crashed – or that it was destroyed on the ground, killing all on board.
Dorenko said: “The IC decided that there were no gunshots…
“So two 5.45 caliber bullets one of which broke through the pilot’s blade are not to be considered. Why?”
He insisted: “There are two 5.45 bullets in the pilot…. the blade is also pierced.”
Investigative Committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko had insisted: “The information is not true.
“None of those killed in the crash has any gunshot wounds.”
Reports say Karapetyan and his nephew Arutyunyan, 47, a senior customs official, were using the helicopter for a hunting trip.
The pilot landed near village Vonyshevo due to atrocious weather and the pair ordered a car to come and collect them.
Then they randomly met a villager Kopteev, who offered to show them the route to take a short flight to meet the car.
This is when the accident allegedly happened.
Kopteev’s relative heard the cracking of branches and the sound of the impact.
In the wake of the crash, there were anonymous claims from respected to “Kremlin insider” blogger nicknamed Nezygar suggesting that Karapetyan’s death will “resolve a number of very painful issues” in the Russian government.
Among these, “it will stop leaks of highly confidential information to the West.”
In particular, Karapetyan’s death would prevent any future passing of information to the secret services of Britain, the, US and Switzerland, it was claimed.