Police 'contact Russian exiles over safety' after murder probe launched in Glushkov death

Investigators believe businessman was strangled with dog lead, source says

Judith Vonberg
Saturday 17 March 2018 15:25 GMT
Police investigate Nikolai Glushkov's mysterious death at his London home

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Louise Thomas

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Police are reportedly contacting a number of Russian exiles in the UK to discuss their safety less than a day after the police opened a murder investigation into the death of exiled Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov.

Mr Glushkov, 68, who was associated with a leading critic of Vladimir Putin, died by "compression to the neck", according to police, who initially treated the death as "unexplained".

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

The BBC said it had been told "police and security services have reassessed their view that other exiles (from Russia) are at low risk".

When contacted by The Independent, the Met Police said it did not comment on matters concerning the safety of individuals.

Officials say there is no evidence to suggest that Mr Glushkov's death and the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury on 4 March are linked, but the launch of the murder probe is likely to further heighten tensions between the UK and Russia.

Russia on Saturday morning announced 23 British diplomats would be expelled from the country in a tit-for-tat response to the UK Government's earlier measures against the Russian state announced on Wednesday.

Britain has blamed Russia for the Salisbury attack, an accusation the state has repeatedly dismissed.

Russia's official Investigations Committee has launched its own criminal investigation into the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and the death of Mr Glushkov, which it is also treating as murder.

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

A post-mortem examination later in the week gave the cause of death as "compression to the neck" and Scotland Yard opened a murder investigation.

The Met Police's Counter Terrorism Command, which led the investigation from the beginning, is "retaining primacy for the investigation because of the associations Mr Glushkov is believed to have had," a spokesperson said.

Mr Glushkov 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.”

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.

Police are appealing for any information that could help the investigation into Mr Glushkov's death.

“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," a spokesperson said.

Police said there was no evidence poison was involved and there are "no wider health concerns" in relation to the investigation.

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