American Investor Known for Russian Nightclub Died of “Blunt Force Injuries” Due to Fall

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.

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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.

Todd Prince is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL based in Washington, D.C. Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent reporting on political and economic developments in Russia, Ukraine, and around the former Soviet Union, as well as news involving cybercrime and espionage.This article is reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).