Dan Rapoport, a Latvia-born American who had resided in Kyiv until recently, was found dead outside of an apartment building in northwest Washington, D.C. on August 14.
Police reports indicate that he had jumped – a view that is being hotly contested by those who knew him.
Rapoport, who used to live and work in Moscow in the field of investment banking, had been the co-owner of one of the most well-known Moscow night clubs of its time, Soho Rooms.
Rapoport’s relationship to jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was rumored to have been the reason for the American being pressured to leave Russia in 2012. This tie to the Russian opposition and the earlier death of his business partner has led to speculation as to the circumstances of his death.
After living in Russia, Rapoport decamped in Washington, DC. In 2017, his former business partner, who had remained in Moscow, was found dead by suicide having allegedly jumped out of a window.
Following a several-year stay in America, Rapoport sold his D.C. home to Ivana Trump and Jared Kushner for more than $5 million and moved to Kyiv in 2017. In recent years, he had sought to build an investment firm in Kyiv and had continued to collaborate with organizations to strengthen Ukrainian civil society in light of the 2014 Russian invasion and was frequently quoted on financial matters by the Kyiv Post.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Rapoport transported his Ukrainian wife and young child out of the country, before returning to Kyiv to undertake various volunteer and defense-related activities to repel the potential Russian invasion.
Russian journalist’s account rejected by family
Hours before even Rapoport’s family was made aware of his death, Russian journalist Yuniya Pugacheva wrote on her Telegram channel that Rapoport had affixed money and a suicide note to the collar of his dog and set the dog free in a D.C. park before jumping out of the apartment window.
However, his bereaved widow, Alena Rapoport, has completely rejected Pugacheva’s account in an interview with RBK, saying there were “no notes, no suicide…” Alena continued that they “were supposed to meet, he had appointments, had plans” and that Dan “evacuated us from Kyiv and went back there himself to help my country.”
When contacted by the Kyiv Post, Alena said that she appreciated being contacted and asked for the story to be shared, having indicated that there was more to be investigated regarding the night in question.
Commenting on the contradictions of what had allegedly transpired, famed author and Russia scholar, David Satter, who had been a friend of Rapoport, told the Kyiv Post that “at the moment, there is very little reliable information. Pugacheva needs to answer two questions: who told her about Dan’s death and gave her the story about the dog being released with a suicide note and why did she feel she was entitled to release this information without talking to Dan’s family.”
Pugacheva, when contacted, declined to identify who her source was on the death of Rapoport, despite requests by both Rapoport’s widow and other press outlets.
The police incident report of Rapoport’s death, obtained by the Kyiv Post, indicated that Rapoport’s body had been found with $2,620 in cash, eyeglasses, and a form of identification – which were returned as “Estate of the Deceased.” However, some personal effects, including his cellphone, had not been returned to the family and were classified in the report as “evidence.”
An active-duty U.S. police officer, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Kyiv Post that it was common for law enforcement to keep a deceased person’s cell phone until the cause of death had been determined. The police officer continued that it was peculiar that some items one would expect to see in a report, such as Rapoport’s wallet, credit cards or a suicide note, were not listed in the report – Indicating that they were not present at the scene.
The large sums of cash, but lack of wallet, has led some to speculate that Rapoport had left to meet someone and to pay for something – however, things may have gone afoul.
According to one individual who reviewed some of the details found on the night of the investment banker’s death, security cameras were not working on the balcony from where Rapoport is alleged to have jumped. Likewise, it was noted that less than 15 minutes before he allegedly jumped, Rapoport had sent an email confirming a lunch appointment for the following week – something that would be quite unusual for someone who was about to take their own life.
When the Kyiv Post asked the D.C. Metropolitan Police whether the death was being investigated, the police spokesman responded that the report was “a death report and there is no foul play suspected. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will have the final determination in the cause and manner of death once an autopsy is performed.” The D.C. Medical Examiner told the Kyiv Post that it is expected to take 60-90 days to get a final report.
A U.S. policeman indicated to the Kyiv Post that publicly denying an investigation could at times be used as a tactic to not alarm any potential suspects, and that only “time will tell” whether D.C. police are, in fact, investigating this case.
Lack of confidence in Medical Examiner
The practices of Washington, D.C.’s Medical Examiner were questioned, in 2016, when it ruled that former Putin-ally turned possible U.S. Government informant Mikhail Lesin was found dead in his hotel room.
The medical examiner had ruled that, while drunk, “alone in his hotel room,” Lesin had died due to “blunt force injuries to his head, with contributing causes being blunt force injuries of the neck, torso, upper extremities, and lower extremities, which were induced by falls amid acute ethanol intoxication.” At the time, multiple public personas scoffed that a drunk man, alone in his hotel room, could sustain such substantial injuries from tripping.
Outside experts, who examined the case, disagreed with Washington’s autopsy of Lesin and said the bone broken in his neck, along with soft tissue hemorrhaging, were indicative of strangulation. It was alleged that a baseball bat may have been used given the extent of his injuries.
At the time, Buzzfeed quoted an unnamed FBI agent as saying, “…there isn’t a single person inside the Bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died. Everyone thinks he was ‘whacked’ and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”
An FBI contact did not immediately respond to the Kyiv Post’s request for comment in relation to Rapoport’s death.
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