A former Russian businessman who fled to the United Kingdom to seek sanctuary has been found dead, just eight days after former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a Russian-made nerve agent outside a British shopping center in Salisbury, England.
The dead man, Nikolai Glushkov, was a close friend and business partner of a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Putin critic was also found dead in 2013.
Glushkov’s death is being investigated by London’s Metropolitan Police’s counterterrorism unit “because of associations that the man is believed to have had.” Police said that “the death is currently being treated as an unexplained,” although they added that “there is no evidence to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury.”
Here’s why the London police are treating this case differently
Glushkov, 68, was a close ally of Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, who was found dead in his home in March 2013. Glushkov's death comes at a time when British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused the Russian government of “likely” being behind the attack of Sergei Skripal.
May has called for 23 Russian diplomats to be expelled from the U.K. over the Russian Embassy's refusal to cooperate in the investigation into Skripal's poisoning.
This timeline illustrates why police are treating Glushkov's death with caution:
- 1990s: Glushkov is the director of the state airline Aeroflot
- Glushkov parters with Boris Berezovsky in the LogoVAZ car company
- 1999: Berezosky falls out of favor with Putin and flees to the United Kingdom
- Glushkov is charged with money laundering and arrested by the Russian government
- 2004: Released from jail but fearing further repurcussions, Glushkov flees to the United Kingdom
- 2006: U.K. authorities question Glushkov in the assassination of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210. Glushkov told investigators that he had met Litvinenko in Berezovsky’s office.
- 2011: Glushkov is a witness in a court case brought by Berozovsky against another Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich. Abramovich was an ally of Putin.
- 2013 (March): Berozovsky is found dead in his home. The official cause of death is ruled as a suicide.
- 2013: Glushkov told The Guardian, “I’m definite Boris [Berezovsky] was killed.” He said, “Boris was strangled. Either he did it himself or with the help of someone. [But] I don’t believe it was suicide.”
- 2013: Glushkov investigates Berezovsky’s death on his own. He emails a friend, saying “I have a lot of new facts that are of great interest.”
- 2016: The U.K. turns down a request to extradite Glushkov to Russia to face fraud charges
- 2017: Glushkov is sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing $123 million from Aeoflot
- March 12, 2018 (10:30 a.m.): Glushkov is due to attend a hearing, but never shows up
- March 12, 2018 (late night): Friends and family members find Glushkov’s body at his home