A Russian virologist who helped develop the country’s COVID-19 vaccine has been found dead after an altercation with an intruder in his Moscow apartment, according to reports in local media.

Andrey Botikov, one of eighteen scientists who developed the Sputnik V vaccine at the Gamaleya National Research Center, was identified as the man who had been discovered strangled in his Rogova Street home on March 2, Regnum reported, citing Russian officials.

The Investigative Committee of Russia is said to have now opened a murder investigation, believing that a 29-year-old man strangled the scientist with a belt during a disagreement before fleeing the scene.

An officer of the Investigative Committee of Russia assesses evidence in the apartment on Rogova Street.
Investigative Committee of Russia

While official accounts point towards a burglary gone wrong, the 47-year-old’s death comes amid a string of Russian elites being found dead in mysterious circumstances over the past year, including scientists and businessmen.

Regnum reported that the suspected assailant had been detained by the authorities, and was being questioned over the incident.

This is a developing story. More to follow.