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Vasily Aleksanyan, a one-time Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton attorney and former head of the legal department for embattled Russian oil giant Yukos, died this week at 39 from AIDS-related complications, according to Russian publication Pravda.

But Aleksanyan’s backers claim the true cause of death was even more insidious. Indeed, according to a report by the Financial Times, the former Cleary lawyer’s backers say he is essentially a victim of state-sanctioned murder as a result of the many years he spent incarcerated as a result of his Yukos ties.

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