Nikolai Glushkov was a close friend of Boris Berezovsky and was being pursued over ‘stolen’ Aeroflot assets after he fled to Britain in 2006
UK counter-terrorist police probe unexplained death of Putin critic
A Russian exile found dead in the UK was being pursued through the London courts over the alleged theft of $123 million from the former state airline Aeroflot.
Nikolai Glushkov – whose death at his south London home was revealed on Tuesday – was also the "closest friend" of Vladimir Putin’s arch-enemy Boris Berezovsky, who was found dead in 2013 at his mansion west of London.
Mr Glushkov, 68, was found dead on Monday and had been suffering from ill-health. He had reportedly run out of money as he fought a long-running civil claim against Aeroflot through the courts.
He had been due in court on the day his body was discovered to continue defending the claim against him and the estate of Mr Berezovsky, but failed to make an appearance, according to The Guardian.
Counter-terrorist police are investigating his death in light of his friendship with Mr Berezovsky. Officers said there was no evidence to link it with events in Salisbury and the assassination attempt on former double agent Sergei Skripal.
“The death is currently being treated as an unexplained,” said police in a statement which did not name Mr Glushkov. It said counter-terrorist officers were “leading the investigation as a precaution because of associations that the man is believed to have had”.
Mr Glushkov was a former director of the Russian state-owned airline Aeroflot when it was privatised, according to his asylum claim. He was later accused of stealing from the company along with Mr Berezovksy. He spent four years in prison from 2000 because of “abuse of power” and attempting to escape.
Following his release, Mr Glushkov fled to the UK in 2006, but the legal campaign against him continued in Russia. He was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison last year.
Mr Berezovsky claimed that his friend’s detention was used a bargaining chip when Putin allies were trying to force him to sign over his Russian business assetsafter falling out with the Kremlin.
Mr Glushkov backed up Mr Berezovsky during a high-profile legal battle in 2012 with rival UK-based oligarch Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, who he claimed had cheated him out of $5 billion.
The London case ended in humiliation for Mr Berezovsky, who was described by a judge as dishonest, deluded and an unreliable witness. The reliability of Mr Glushkov’s evidence was also called into question.
Police believe Mr Berezovsky killed himself the following year after losing his wealth and influence. The court case came more than a decade after he was forced into exile in the UK after falling out with his former protege, Mr Putin. He was found with a scarf around his neck in the bathroom of his mansion.
Mr Glushkov, who first met Mr Berezovsky in 1989, always believed that his friend had been killed. The death of Mr Berezovsky is now one of 14 suspicious deaths being re-assessed in light of the attempted assassination in Salisbury, the British government said.