Now police launch MURDER probe into death of exiled Russian tycoon and close friend of Putin enemy Boris Berezovsky as officers reveal he died from ‘compression to neck

An exiled critic of Vladimir Putin died from ‘compression to the neck’ at his London home, Scotland Yard announced today, as detectives revealed they are treating his death as murder.

Nikolai Glushkov, 68, was found dead by his daughter, Natalia, at his suburban home in New Malden, south London on Monday night – just eight days after the nerve agent attack on spy Sergei Skripal.

Mr Glushkov was one of the last surviving members of an ill-fated circle of Russian exiles – led by Putin’s enemy Boris Berezovsky – who have died in suspicious circumstances.

The announcement of the murder probe comes amid mounting tensions between the Whitehall and the Kremlin over the shocking chemical weapons attack in Salisbury.

Russia is set to expel British diplomats from Moscow in a tit-for-tat response to the UK’s expulsion of 23 staff from Moscow’s mission to London, as tensions worsen between the two nations.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said today: ‘A murder investigation has been launched following the results of a post mortem into the death of 68-year-old Russian businessman Nikolay Glushkov. Mr Glushkov’s family has been informed.’

The spokesman added: ‘The Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, which has led the investigation from the outset, is now treating Mr Glushkov’s death as murder.

Mr Glushkov's friend  Boris Berezovsky was found dead in his Berkshire home in 2013 and the death of another of their circle, Badri Patarkatsishvili, is also unexplained

Mr Glushkov’s friend  Boris Berezovsky was found dead in his Berkshire home in 2013 and the death of another of their circle, Badri Patarkatsishvili, is also unexplained

Mr Glushkov was found by his daughter, Russian businesswoman Natalia Glushkova
Mr Glushkov was found by his daughter, Russian businesswoman Natalia Glushkova

Mr Glushkov was found by his daughter, Russian businesswoman Natalia Glushkova

‘As a precaution, the command is retaining primacy for the investigation because of the associations Mr Glushkov is believed to have had.’

Mr Glushkov was jailed in Russia in 2000 and held at the notorious Lefortovo Prison for five years until being cleared of fraud and money laundering and freed.

 

Mr Glushkov was jailed in Russia in 2000 and held at the notorious Lefortovo Prison for five years until being cleared of fraud and money laundering and freed.

He claimed political asylum in Britain and lived out of the limelight in suburban south London. However, at the time of his death he was preparing for a £90million High Court showdown with his former employer Aeroflot.

Mr Glushkov was being sued by the airline, which is 51 per cent state-owned, for the return of £90 million which it alleges he embezzled along with Boris Berezovsky, the anti-Putin oligarch who is thought to have committed suicide in 2013.

The Met Police said today: ‘Mr Glushkov, a retired financial director, was a Russian national who had lived at that address for two years.

Police officers stand on duty outside the home of Nikolai Glushkov in New Malden, today

Police officers stand on duty outside the home of Nikolai Glushkov in New Malden, today

Mr Glushkov was one of the last surviving members of an ill-fated circle of Russian exiles - led by Putin's enemy Boris Berezovsky - who have died in suspicious circumstances (images from today) 

Mr Glushkov was one of the last surviving members of an ill-fated circle of Russian exiles – led by Putin’s enemy Boris Berezovsky – who have died in suspicious circumstances (images from today)

‘At this stage there is nothing to suggest any link to the attempted murders in Salisbury, nor any evidence that he was poisoned.’

It comes as police and health officials have identified 131 people who could have been exposed to the nerve agent that has left Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in a critical condition.

Intelligence agencies are working on the theory that was hidden in Yulia Skripal’s luggage inside cosmetics or a gift and then opened in her father’s house in Salisbury around March 4.

While, last year, Mr Glushkov was handed a second eight-year sentence by a Russian court in his absence over the alleged theft from Aeroflot, where he was previously finance director.

Russia has not commented on the Met probe, but announced today that Moscow has launched its own investigation into his murder and the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal.

The usually quiet street in New Malden, south London has been flooded with Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officers this week as a huge probe was launched into Glushkov's death

The usually quiet street in New Malden, south London has been flooded with Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officers this week as a huge probe was launched into Glushkov’s death

Mr Glushkov’s former bodyguard this week revealed the extent of his worries over his safety and the measures they took to preserve his safety.

The minder told the Telegraph how Mr Glushkov had hatched an escape plan which included a hideaway should his life be put in danger.

He told the paper: ‘When we were informed things were a little tense, we were told to prepare a getaway for Glushkov.’

The bodyguard had also worked with Glushkov’s friend and former business partner Boris Berezovsky and said the exiles saw poison as ‘always a threat’.

The security guard said: ‘Boris [Berezovsky] spoke openly that the orders came directly from Putin to eliminate him and his friends.’

Forensics officers outside a house in New Malden which has been sealed off after the Russian businessman, a close friend of Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, was found dead

Forensics officers outside a house in New Malden which has been sealed off after the Russian businessman, a close friend of Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, was found dead

Police work into the night examining site of Russian mystery death
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Ambulance thought to carry body of Nikolai Glushkov leaves scene

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A police forensics tent has been set up outside his home in the London suburb of New Malden

A police forensics tent has been set up outside his home in the London suburb of New Malden

Police are mounting a thorough investigation amid fevered talk of political assassinations
Police are mounting a thorough investigation amid fevered talk of political assassinations

Police are mounting a thorough investigation amid fevered talk of political assassinations

The blue-forensics tent is visible in the otherwise peaceful suburban streets of New Malden

The blue-forensics tent is visible in the otherwise peaceful suburban streets of New Malden

Forensics arrive at home of Russian businessman found dead

Boris Berezovsky was said to have taken his own life after he was found strangled at his Surrey mansion in 2013, although Mr Glushkov was always among those who refused to accept that his billionaire oligarch friend killed himself.

Another of his close acquaintances, Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, 52, also died in mysterious circumstances five years earlier.

In that case, police investigated claims he was the target of an assassination plot but a coroner was told he probably suffered a heart attack.

Glushkov said shortly after close friend Berezovsky’s death in 2013: ‘You have the deaths of Boris and Badri over a short period of time.

‘Too many bodies are happening. I’d say this is a little bit too much. I don’t see anyone left apart from me.’

The Home Secretary has already ordered a fresh official inquiry into a number of other deaths in Britain that could be connected to Russia.

‘They have a week to leave’: UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats
The murder probe comes amid a war of words between Russia and the UK after Theresa May announced she is expelling 23 of Putin's spies
The murder probe comes amid a war of words between Russia and the UK after Theresa May announced she is expelling 23 of Putin's spies

The murder probe comes amid a war of words between Russia and the UK after Theresa May announced she is expelling 23 of Putin’s spies

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are both critically ill in hospital after a nerve agent attack

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are both critically ill in hospital after a nerve agent attack

The Russian Embassy announced today that authorities in Moscow have launched their own investigation into both Mr Glushkov's murder and Ms Skripal's attempted murder

The Russian Embassy announced today that authorities in Moscow have launched their own investigation into both Mr Glushkov’s murder and Ms Skripal’s attempted murder

Officers are examining Mr Glushkov’s movements, telephone contacts and circle of friends, amid claims he remained worried by legal manoeuvres by the Russian authorities.

The investigation comes amid a breakdown in Anglo-Russian relationships after Theresa May announced Vladimir Putin’s state was behind a Novichok nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal.

Mr Skripal, his daughter Yulia and a Wiltshire police sergeant, Nick Bailey, all remain in hospital following the attack.

Boris Johnson today gave the clearest statement yet that the UK believes Mr Putin himself authorised the use of Novichok against the Skripals.

‘Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision – and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision – to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe for the first time since the Second World War.’

But within minutes Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov hit back branding the remark ‘nothing but shocking and unforgiveable behaviour from the point of view of diplomacy’. He added: ‘Russia has nothing to do with this story.’

The huge clear-up operation in Salisbury continued today as part of the Skripal investigation

The huge clear-up operation in Salisbury continued today as part of the Skripal investigation

The Army are handling contaminated evidence as the probe spreads into surrounding counties

The Army are handling contaminated evidence as the probe spreads into surrounding counties

Moscow has said it will retaliate imminently to Theresa May’s decision to kick out 23 Russian diplomats, and will expel UK officials.

Extraordinarily, the Russian ambassador to London claimed today that the British authorities could have faked the poisoning of the Skripals.

Speaking to the Russian state-funded RT television, Alexander Yakovenko said it was ‘suspicious’ that information about the case,

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