A Russian businessman who was associated with a prominent critic of the Kremlin has died in London, his lawyer said yesterday. Police are treating the death as unexplained and have put counterterrorism detectives in charge of the case.

But police said there was no evidence to suggest a link to the March 4 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Attorney Andrei Borovkov told Russian media outlets that his client, Nikolai Glushkov, has died, but said he was unaware of the time and circumstances.

Reports in British and Russian media said Glushkov, 68, was found dead at his home in southwest London.

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London's Metropolitan Police force said counterterrorism detectives are leading the investigation "as a precaution because of associations that the man is believed to have had".

Police said officers are investigating the "unexplained" death of a man found at a house in the New Malden area late Monday. It didn't release his name, saying formal identification had yet to take place.

However, Britain's The Sun tabloid reports that Glushkov was found with "strangulation marks" at his home in New Malden. The tabloid linked Glushkov to Andrey Lugovoy, the man who was accused of being behind the 2006 poisoning of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium. The link, it said, was that Lugovoy was jailed for attempting to spring Glushkov from prison in 2001.

Alexander Litvinenko at the University College Hospital, in central London, shortly before his 2006 death from poisoning by radioactive polonium. Photo/ Supplied
Alexander Litvinenko at the University College Hospital, in central London, shortly before his 2006 death from poisoning by radioactive polonium. Photo/ Supplied

Glushkov was an associate of Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch and Kremlin critic who died in London in 2013. An inquest failed to determine whether he had killed himself or died from foul play.

Glushkov had worked for various Berezovsky enterprises including the car factory AvtoVAZ and flagship Russian airline Aeroflot.

He was arrested in 1999 and put on trial for embezzling $7 million from Aeroflot. In 2004, he was sentenced to three years and three months in prison, but released because of time served before and during his trial.

Russian media reported that Glushkov was granted political asylum in Britain in 2010.

In 2017, a Moscow court reviewed Glushkov's case and sentenced him in absentia to eight years for embezzling more than $122 million from Aeroflot.

Last year, Glushkov appeared on a list published by the Russian Embassy in London of Russians wanted for serious crimes whom the UK had refused to extradite.

It said Russia had sought his extradition in 2015 "for committing a number of severe financial offences on the territory of Russia," but the British government refused.


- AP