Nikolai Glushkov: Russian exile murdered at London home by 'compression to neck', police say

Counter-terror police say there is no evidence of a link with nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal 

Lizzie Dearden,Kim Sengupta
Friday 16 March 2018 16:59 GMT
Police investigate Nikolai Glushkov's mysterious death at his London home

An exiled Russian businessman associated with a leading critic of Vladimir Putin was murdered at his London home just over a week after a nerve agent attack on a former spy, police have revealed.

Investigators believe Nikolai Glushkov was strangled with a dog lead, a source told The Independent.

Officials say there is no evidence to suggest the Mr Glushkov's death and the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal are linked, but the timing is likely to heighten tensions with the Kremlin just two days before presidential elections.

Mr Glushkov was found dead at his home in New Malden, south-west London, on Monday evening.

Scotland Yard initially treated the 68-year-old’s death as unexplained but a post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as “compression to the neck”.

“The Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, which has led the investigation from the outset, is now treating Mr Glushkov’s death as murder,” a spokesperson said.

“As a precaution, the command is retaining primacy for the investigation because of the associations Mr Glushkov is believed to have had.”

He was a close friend of exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who was himself a friend of murdered spy Alexander Litvinenko.

Mr Berezovsky was found hanged in the bathroom of his Berkshire home in 2013.

Police said a post-mortem showed no sign of a violent struggle, and an inquest recorded an open verdict after hearing conflicting evidence.

At the time, Mr Glushkov said he believed his friend had been murdered, telling The Guardian: “I don’t believe Boris died of natural causes. Too many deaths [of Russian exiles] have been happening.”

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Mr Berezovsky’s death is among up to 14 being reviewed by police and MI5 in light of the nerve agent attack on Mr Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

Mr Glushkov worked for Mr Berezovsky’s LogoVaz car company in Russia, before becoming the first deputy general director for Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot in the late 1990s.

He served a five-year term for money laundering and fraud in Russia, then fled the country after being handed a two-year suspended sentence for fraud in 2006.

Last year, he was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and a 1 million ruble fine in absentia for allegedly defrauding Aeroflot – a case that continued at the time of his death.

Mr Glushkov, who has two children, was due to attend a commercial court hearing on Monday morning but did not arrive, sparking concerns among friends who later confirmed his death.

His LinkedIn page listed him as a “private consultant” in financial services since 2011.

Police described Mr Glushkov as a “retired financial director” and said he had lived in the home in Clarence Avenue for two years.

“At this stage there is nothing to suggest any link to the attempted murders in Salisbury, nor any evidence that he was poisoned,” a spokesperson said.

“Detectives are retaining an open mind and are appealing for any information that will assist the investigation into Mr Glushkov’s murder to contact them in confidence on 0800 789 321.

“In particular they are appealing for anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious at or near his home in Clarence Avenue, New Malden, between Sunday 11 March and Monday 12 March to contact them.

“There are no wider public health concerns in relation to this investigation.”

Russia’s official Investigations Committee has launched its own criminal investigations into the attempted murder of the Skripals and Mr Glushkov’s death.

The Tass news agency quoted spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko as saying that the investigations “will be conducted in accordance with the Russian legislation and international law”, adding the committee was ready to cooperate with British law enforcement.

One of Mr Glushkov’s neighbours, Patricia Egan, said police had questioned local residents about what they had seen and heard of the businessman or his dog.

“I’m just in shock – this nice neighbour, he was a lovely fellow,” she added, recalling visits from his adult daughter.

“[Mr Glushkov] told me she had gone to a Swiss finishing school, he said he was trying to force her to learn Russian.

“He also had a son but he lived in Moscow I think.”

Ms Egan said Mr Glushkov was intelligent, educated, and well-mannered, generous and friendly, noting that he spoke very good English.

She also revealed he had an operation a few months ago on one of his legs for arthritis, adding: “He didn’t go out much because of his illnesses, he had something wrong with his heart and had a few strokes.”

Ms Egan said her neighbour’s birthday was on Christmas Eve and that they had “popped in for a glass of wine” to celebrate, adding that he “used to have a lot of people over”.

“It was a Russian house, all brown furniture,” Ms Egan added. “He told me he was from Georgia and always said how beautiful it was.”

Additional reporting by PA

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