Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov, who claimed political asylum in the United Kingdom and was a close associate of the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, has been found dead at his home in London.
The incident happened on late Monday evening when Glushkov’s body was discovered by family and friends at a home in New Malden in southwest London. Berezovsky, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was 69 years old.
“The death is currently being treated as unexplained,” a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Service said on Tuesday, adding that an autopsy will be taking place in the next few days.
The death comes just over a week after former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury. Both remain in critical condition. A police officer who was one of the first to arrive at the scene was also affected and remains in a serious condition.
The Metropolitan Police Service said there was no evidence to suggest a link between the nerve agent attack and Glushkov’s death, but an investigation is underway. Officers in protective gear were seen at his home late on Tuesday.
“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,” police said in a statement.
British Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament on Monday that it is “highly likely” that Russia is responsible for the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. She said the military-grade Novichok nerve agent was used to poison Sergei Skripal, his daughter, and the police officer.
May has called on Russia, which denies any involvement, to provide a credible explanation by Tuesday evening. “Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom,” she said.
Glushkov was a director at Russian airline Aeroflot and Berezovksy’s LogoVAZ car company before he was charged and convicted of money laundering and fraud, for which he served 5 years in prison. He later fled Russia and claimed political asylum in the United Kingdom.
In March 2017, the Russian Embassy in London released a statement in which it criticized Britain for refusing to extradite fugitives. Glushkov was shown at the top of the list, saying that he was accused of embezzling large amounts of funds from Aeroflot. It said Britain had denied Russia’s extradition request.
Glushkov was also a close associate of self-exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who was found dead at his home near London in March 2013. Berezovsky was once a member of Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s inner circle but later clashed with Vladimir Putin, who succeeded Yeltsin and remains president.
Berezovsky fled to Britain in the early 2000s and sought political asylum for what he claimed were politically motivated fraud charges. British police ruled that Berezovsky, who had survived several assassination attempts, died as a result of hanging with no evidence of third-party involvement.