Two North Korean citizens were found dead Saturday in separate rooms in the same Moscow hotel, with early reports claiming that they both died from “acute heart failure.”
The bodies of both North Koreans, who have not been identified, were discovered at a hotel west of the Russian capital that was not named by authorities. According to the Moscow Times, police are investigating the deaths.
The discovery of the dead North Koreans comes just months after the half-brother of the country’s dictator Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-nam, was murdered at Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia by assassins who used a fatal nerve agent.
Malaysia refrained from directly accusing North Korea of perpetrating the attack, yet it is widely speculated that Pyongyang ordered a hit on a member of its ruling elite who had long been in exile.
The murdered Kim was estranged from his family and not an overt political threat, yet he might have been viewed as a potential rival in North Korea’s dynastic dictatorship.
North Korea has denied any blame for Kim’s murder and has never acknowledged that he was a member of its ruling family.
Tuesday, the two women accused in Kim’s murder—Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28—appeared in a Malaysian court wearing bullet-proof vests and under heavy security.
Both women could face the death penalty, though they have denied killing Kim, claiming they were tricked into thinking they were participating in a reality TV show.
Kim’s murder caused a diplomatic conflict between Malaysia and North Korea.
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