Did Russia deliberately kill Vadatursky, Ukraine’s grain tycoon?

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Kyiv, Ukraine – Oleksiy Vadatursky was known as a “grain tycoon” who helped make Ukraine a key wheat exporter.

A Russian missile killed him and his wife Raisa in their house in the southern city of Mykolaiv on Sunday, raising suspicion among Ukrainian politicians and pundits who called their death a calculated murder aimed at stalling the resumption of exports.

Unlike other oligarchs – a group of super-rich and unpopular Ukrainians with immense political clout who gained control of key industries after privatising Soviet-era plants and factories – Vadatursky was widely respected as a self-made man.

“He worked. He didn’t exploit the Soviet industrial heritage. He built his empire in the field,” Vadim Karasev, a Kyiv-based political analyst, told Al Jazeera. “He was one of those who created the Ukrainian miracle of grain exporting.”

Employees, partners and even business rivals called Vadatursky, who was 74, “grandpa”.

His companies owned hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile “black earth” land in 10 Ukrainian regions.

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