Counter terrorism police have launched an investigation into the ‘unexplained’ death of a Russian business partner of Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Putin’s arch enemy.
Nikolai Grushkov, 69, was found dead at his home in New Malden in south London on Monday evening.
Grushkov was the closest aide to Berezovsky who died in mysterious circumstances in 2013 at his home in Surrey. The death of Grushkov just eight days after the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, the Russian double agent who sold state secrets to MI6, will cause alarm although Scotland yard has insisted there is no evidence to suggest the two incidents are linked.
Friends of Berezovsky insist he was murdered on president Putin’s order.
The metropolitan Police said in a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon: “An investigation is underway following the death of a man in his 60s in Kingston borough.
“Police were called by the London Ambulance Service at 10.46pm on Monday, 12 March to reports of a man found deceased at a residential address in Clarence Avenue, New Malden.
“Officers attended and next of kin have been informed. Whilst we believe we know the identity of the deceased, formal identification is yet to take place.
“A post-mortem examination will be held in due course.
“The death is currently being treated as an unexplained. If there is a change in the status of the investigation, an update will be provided.
“At this stage the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command is leading the investigation as a precaution because of associations that the man is believed to have had.
“There is no evidence to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury.”
Nikolai Glushkov: The businessman twice charged with fraud in Russia
Mr Glushkov left Russia after a Moscow court sentenced him to a two-year suspended sentence for fraud in 2006.
In March last year, he was handed a second eight-year sentence in absentia and a one million Russian Ruble fine for allegedly defrauding Aeroflot of $122 million during his tenure as finance director there in the late 1990s.
Mr Glushkov denied all the charges against him.
In 2016, he told Russian media that Aeroflot was attempting to sue him in a civil case in the High Court in London.
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Bereaved friends speak of his life and work
Vasily Trunin, a friend and apparent former colleague, wrote on Facebook: "Every time we get on a new, up-to-date plane made by Aeroflot, one of the best airlines in Europe, we can remember Kolya (Nikolai) Glushkov, who was one of the few people who managed to pull an airline out of the Soviet backwater.
"A shame, a great shame. He was a good friend."
He told the Telegraph that he met the former Aeroflot manager in London and that he had been a close friend of Mr Berezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili.
"I saw Boris and Badri a lot at that time and observed their friendship with Nikolai. He really was a very good friend of theirs."
Paying tribute to Mr Glushkov, he said: "I heard many positive reviews about his organizational skills, his understanding of building production processes."
Another friend wrote that Mr Glushkov was the "best person [he] ever worked for".
Alexander Goldfarb, a Russian-American activist who has campaigned for justice for Alexander Litvinenko, wrote that he was saddened by the death.