UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


[ rfe/rl banner ]

Autopsy Says American Investor Known For Russian Nightclub Died Of 'Blunt Force Injuries' Due To Fall

By Todd Prince, Mike Eckel November 16, 2022 - Updated November 17, 2022

WASHINGTON -- An American stockbroker who made a fortune in the Russian market in the 1990s and 2000s and later co-founded a posh Moscow nightclub before leaving the country died of blunt force injuries suffered as a result of a fall from a Washington, D.C. building.

The findings, released on November 16 by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), confirm that Dan Rapoport died on August 14 after falling from a height, but do not conclusively explain the circumstances leading up to his death.

Washington police told RFE/RL that an investigation into his death had ended and declined further comment. Earlier this year, a police spokeswoman told RFE/RL that foul play was not suspected, but that final conclusions were pending the autopsy.

Rapoport's untimely death triggered much speculation because he had voiced support for ardent Kremlin foe Aleksei Navalny before leaving Russia and, while living in Kyiv in recent years, had been a vocal supporter of Ukraine and an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Washington metropolitan police found Rapoport's body on August 14 on the sidewalk outside 2400 M Street, a nine-story apartment building in the northwest part of the city.

The medical examiner's report said Rapoport, 52, died of "multiple blunt force injuries due to fall from height" and described the death as "sudden/unexplained." The report also said the manner of his death was "undetermined."

The OCME said no other information would be immediately released.

A preliminary police report said officers responded to a report of a "jumper" on the evening of August 14, and the man, later identified as Rapoport, was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead.

The apartment building has an open rooftop with a pool, running track, and seating area for residents.

The police report said officers found $2,620 in cash on Rapoport when they discovered his body on the sidewalk, along with headphones, a cracked cell phone, a Florida driver's license, and other items.

He was wearing flip-flops, perhaps indicating he had been at the pool on the roof prior to falling.

Brianna Burch, a police spokesperson, told RFE/RL in August that there did not appear to be anyone with Rapoport at the time and there were no listed witnesses. In follow-up correspondences with RFE/RL through early November, the police continued to say they did not suspect foul play.

Rapoport had recently moved back to Washington after spending several years working in finance in Ukraine. He told RFE/RL in an interview in Washington in June that business had been tough due to the country's high political risk and war with Russia.

While some friends said they did not believe he would have committed suicide, others said he had appeared depressed.

Go-To Location

A native of Latvia and a fluent Russian speaker, Rapoport emigrated with his family to the United States in 1980. After graduating from a U.S. university, he moved to Russia in the early 1990s as a wave of privatizations swept across the country.

The sale of former state-owned companies created a booming stock market, minting a new generation of millionaires, Russian and foreign.

Rapoport was respected within Russian financial circles, where he worked for more than a decade at a local brokerage called CenterInvest, making his way up to managing partner. He claimed his clients included some of the nation's wealthiest tycoons.

In 2007, he opened a swanky nightclub in downtown Moscow called Soho Rooms, which became the go-to location for Moscow's elite.

In 2012, he left Russia and returned to the United States, saying the stock brokerage industry that had made him a fortune "had died" as commission fees shrunk with improvements in technology.

But in a media interview prior to his departure, he also criticized the direction Russia had taken under Putin and expressed support for Navalny, who was jailed last year on what Western governments say were trumped-up charges.

"It has really become unbearable to live in Russia," Rapoport told media outlet FinParty in June of that year. "We are all now dependent on one ruler. If this person decides that you will give birth to his child, then you will give birth, and if he decide to put you in prison, then you will serve time."

He told FinParty that he would give up his American citizenship and return to Russia if Navalny became president, saying the opposition leader was sincere in his desire to fight corruption.

"He is a real hero of our time and deserves respect," Rapoport said of Navalny.

Rapoport's frustration with Russia and his decision to leave may have been triggered by pressure on his businesses, friends and family have said.

Under Putin, the raiding of profitable businesses by -- or with the help of -- the nation's security services has flourished. Rapoport allegedly lost his stake in Soho Rooms when his partners teamed up with security officials.

"Our flight to Washington is in 12 hours. It's sad to leave Russia, but for thoughtful people, living here has become unbearable and disgusting," Rapoport wrote on his Facebook page on June 13, 2012.

When Rapoport moved to Washington, where he said his parents lived, he set up a company called Rapoport Capital to advise and assist technology startups as well as venture capital funds on fundraising options.

In 2016, four years after leaving Russia, Rapoport set up an office in Kyiv and opened a private equity fund. It was tough going. Ukraine's economy struggled amid an ongoing war with Russia-backed separatists in two eastern regions and the slow implementation of Western-backed reforms.

In social-media posts over the ensuing years, he was a vocal supporter of Ukraine and an outspoken critic of Putin.

Rapoport gained a degree of publicity in January 2017 after The New York Times reported that the daughter and son-in-law of newly elected President Donald Trump had purchased a mansion owned by him and his first wife. The mansion was located in an exclusive neighborhood of the U.S. capital.

In 2018, the open-source investigative organization Bellingcat reported that Rapoport, who was Jewish, had been the creator of a fictional persona named David Jewberg, who was frequently quoted in Ukrainian media as a senior Pentagon analyst.

With reporting by Todd Prince in Washington, D.C. and Mike Eckel in Prague

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-stockbrker-rapoport- autopsy-blunt-force-fall/32133940.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list