Shortly before 9 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14, a prominent Soviet-born businessman and vocal opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin was found dead outside a high-end Washington apartment building by DC Metropolitan police under mysterious circumstances.
And the mystery has only been deepening since.
Dan Rapoport, 52, was found in front of the 2400 M Apartments in the upscale D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown, just two days after he made a cryptic post on social media.
Rapoport was a Latvian-American banker who was a major thorn in Putin’s side and supported Ukraine in its war against the Russian invasion.
While authorities are investigating his death as a suicide, the circumstances are raising questions, based on similar “suicides” in recent Russian history. Rapoport’s widow was among the first to express her doubts about her husband’s untimely demise.
As a man whose family left the Soviet Union in 1980, and who later walked among the most influential powerbrokers in Moscow, Rapoport doubtlessly knew the dangers involved in crossing the Russian president. The knowledge that he was under the watchful eyes of Putin’s regime must have been ever-present in his mind.
Did Rapaport know what was coming? Was he facing something potentially worse than death? Or did he actually take his own life, either plagued by personal problems or beset by the overwhelming power of Putin’s regime to make his life a living hell?
Whatever the case may be, Rapaport didn’t go entirely quietly. In addition to an alleged suicide note, just two days prior to his death, Rapoport posted an image of Marlon Brando as Col. Kurtz in the film “Apocalypse Now” with the cryptic caption, “The horror, the horror.”
According to Fox News, an incident report from the Metropolitan Police Department stated that officers responded to the call of a “jumper” at the eight-story apartment building. In a statement, MPD spokeswoman Brianna Burch said Rapoport’s death remained under active investigation, according to the U.K. Independent.
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“We do not suspect foul play at this time,” the statement said.
In a report obtained by The Western Journal from the DC Metro Police, it was revealed that police recovered the flip-flops and hat Rapaport was wearing along with a keyring and lanyard, broken headphones, a cracked cell phone, $2,620 in cash and a Florida driver’s license from the scene.
When police arrived, paramedics were already on the scene attempting to render first aid to Rapoport. He was transported to a nearby hospital where he later died.
One reason the death spurred questions was that it was originally reported on the social media platform Telegram by Yuniya Pugacheva, a former editor of Russia Tatler, the Russian edition of the U.K.-based magazine Tatler, according to the New York Post.
Pugacheva’s report included the claim that Rapoport’s wife had left him, and that Pugacheva had personally seen Rapoport in May at a London bar, “as always, in the company of young women,” the Post reported.
So the man killed himself while distraught over the dissolution of his marriage — and it has nothing to do with his political activities?
Isn’t that precisely the narrative that the Russian Federal Security Service would want to put out?
Alena Rapoport, Rapaport’s widow, was quick to dispute the rumors about her husband’s death. “There were no suicide notes, no suicide, no trip to London, no breakup,” she told Russian news site RBC as reported by The Post.
However, she did confirm her husband’s death, telling RBC, “To our great regret, the husband and father of our daughter is no more.”
She did not speculate on his cause of death but did go on to describe the upcoming plans they had.
“We were due to meet, he had appointments and plans. Dan evacuated us from Kyiv and returned there to help my country. Next, we were supposed to meet in the USA.”
Fox News reported that Rapoport was a harsh critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine. He described Putin as an “evil, corrupt, deceitful and dangerous man” in a 2014 Facebook post.
“This evil, corrupt, deceitful and dangerous man is leading his country and people towards a confrontation with the civilized world. Not a cold war but a hot war is possible. And he is NOT doing this for the benefit of Russia, he is doing it to distract his people form the economic hardships due to his institutionalized corruption and recent sanctions,” Rapoport wrote.
At the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, Rapoport made his support for the Ukrainian cause known.
“No large conflict in the past 75 years has been so clearly defined as black and white, an epic struggle of slavery versus freedom, totalitarianism against democracy, cruelty versus humanity,” he wrote in an April Facebook post.
Those are words that aren’t welcome to the strong man in the Kremlin.
Rapoport was born and raised in Soviet-ruled Latvia until his family emigrated to the United States in 1980, and were granted political asylum according to The New York Post.
He graduated from the University of Houston in 1991 and after the fall of the USSR, he moved to Russia and made a career for himself as an investment banker.
In 2012, Rapoport and his first wife, Irina, moved to the U.S., purchasing a multimillion-dollar home in Washington.
Reports in several outlets indicate this was due to his support of Russian anti-Putin opposition leader Alexie Navalny. Navalny is currently imprisoned in Russia, according to The Washington Post, after being convicted of fraud and contempt of court and sentenced to nine years in addition to a 2 1/2 year sentence he was already serving in what many have considered as a sham trial.
The Rapoports later divorced and in 2016, the well-connected banker sold the Washington home to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Shortly after the sale, he moved to Ukraine and married his second wife, Alena, a virologist, who would become his widow.
But Rapoport remained active regarding Russian politics. A 2018 report in the Netherlands-based website Bellingcat identified Rapoport as the prime organizer behind a media campaign that used a fictitious character named “David Jewberg,” a supposed Pentagon consultant who advocated a stronger U.S. stance against Russia.
The U.S. Defense Department denied any such person existed, Bellingcat reported.
Rapaport is far from the first to die under circumstances that cast suspicion on Moscow.
The Jerusalem Post, reported that several public figures, either critical of or linked to Putin have either committed suicide recently or died in ways that left lingering questions.
The article cited the fates of:
Alexander Litvinenko, 43, a former Kremlin spy who died in London after drinking poisoned green tea in 2006, according to the BBC;
Alexander Tyulyakov, 61, a former executive of the Russian state energy firm Gazprom, who was found hanged in his home in February near St. Petersburg, Russia. Three more Gazprom executives have been found dead this year, in what were officially considered murder-suicides or suicides, according to Business Insider. A fifth Gazprom executive also died under unexplained circumstances, the publication reported.
Ukrainiane oligarch Mikhail Watford, 66, who was found hanged at his home in Surrey, England, in March, according to the New York Post;
Russian billionaire Vasily Melnikov who was found dead in his apartment, also in March, according to Newsweek.
In a piece about the deaths published in May, the New York Post made the point with the headline: “Putin’s fingerprints all over deaths of these 7 oligarchs this year: sources.”
“There is a cleaning out going on and it’s difficult to pin down any one person down who’s doing it,” said Anders Aslund, author of “Russia’s Crony Capitalism” and a Swedish economist told the Post. “But this looks like Kremlin murders to me.”
The Russian intelligence service, now the FSB instead of the Soviet-era KGB, is known to be rather fond of employing “suicide” to eliminate problematic individuals. The BBC even reported a former head of the KGB foreign intelligence branch, Leonid Shebarshin, apparently shot himself dead aged 77, in 2012.
John O’Neill author of the book “The Dancer and the Devil: Stalin, Pavlova, and the Road to the Great Pandemic,” told the Post, “In 1941 [KGB defector] Walter Krivitsky said any fool can commit a murder but it takes a true artist to stage a natural death or suicide.”
Kravitsky might have become a victim of one such “artist.”
“He supposedly jumped out of a window in Washington, DC, and he left a suicide note,” O’Neill told the Post. “But the suicide note was all off. It listed the wrong relatives. [His death] was recorded as a suicide but everyone who’s studied it says it was a staged suicide.”
It is unknown in what capacity, official or otherwise, that Rapoport was working to help Ukraine as his widow Alena indicated. However, in a Facebook post from April he wrote, that his family’s charity, the Tsal Kaplun Foundation” was organizing a fundraiser.
“The North Salem Committee for Ukraine and the Tsal Kaplun Foundation are raising funds to support Ukrainian refugees, as well as providing desperately needed medical supplies, helmets, vests, and other non lethal gear for the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” the post stated.
The Western Journal reached out to the Tsal Kaplun Foundation and the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington for clarification but did not receive a response prior to publication.
The Russian Embassy in Washington was also contacted for comment regarding Rapoport’s death, but it has not responded.