Nikolai Glushkov, an exiled opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin who had been pursued in court for years by Russia's state-run airline Aeroflot — in a case described as Kremlin-backed "persecution" by a British court, according to The Times of London — was strangled to death in his own home on the very day the he was set to testify in the case, The Times reported on Saturday.
Glushkov (pictured above), a 68-year-old former top executive of Aeroflot, was sued in 2010 by the company which accused him of corruption and sought $99 million in compensation — a case that a judge in the United Kingdom High Court said was "was doomed to fail in its entirety," The Times reported. The company withdrew its case against Glushkov in early April, but by that time, Glushkov was dead.
Police say that the Russian dissident was strangled to death on March 12, according to Britain's Daily Mail. Investigators said they found no sign of a forced entry into his home in New Malden, England, a suburb of London, and no suspects have been named despite a murder investigation that has been open since March, as The Inquisitr reported.
Glushkow was a close friend of another top Putin foe, Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky — who was himself found dead at age 67, hanged with his own cashmere scarf, at a home owned by his ex-wife in 2013, according to The Independent. The coroner left an "open verdict" on Berezovsky's death, meaning that it could not be determined whether the hanging was suicide or murder.
In Glushkov's murder probe, police now say that they have a list of 321 possible witnesses on their list to be questioned, and have already collected "hundreds" of witness statements, despite still failing to zero in on a suspect, the Times reported.
The judge slammed Aeroflot for attacking Glushkov "to the bitter end," The Mail reported, despite the Russian dissident's failing health and deteriorating financial condition due to his efforts to defend himself in the case. By the time of the scheduled hearing in March, Glushkov was out of money and would have been forced to act as his own lawyer in the lawsuit.
The judge ordered Aeroflot to completely pay back Glushkov's expenses in the case, about £5 million — or $6.6 million — The Times reported. The judge also admonished Aeroflot lawyers for sending a "shameful" letter to Natalia Glushkova, Glushkov's daughter, and to Glushkov's domestic partner Denis Trushin — a letter containing "hectoring and intrusive questions" of the pair, just one month after Glushkov's murder.
The U.K. had granted Glushkov political asylum in 2010, but in 2017 a Russian court convicted him of supposedly embezzling $122 million from Aeroflot, even though Glushkov was not present for the trial, according to an Associated Press account.
Glushkov also had ties to two other dissidents who died, or were killed, under bizarre and mysterious circumstances in England. He was reported to be friends with Marina Litvinenko, wife of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who turned against Putin and sought U.K. asylum in 2000. In 2006, Litvinenko was poisoned by drinking tea laced with the highly radioactive substance Polonium, as The Guardian recently recounted.
On his deathbed, Litvinenko said that Putin had ordered his killing, and in 2016 a judge in an inquiry into Litvinenko's death agreed. The Russian dissident's assassination was "probably approved by [Russian Spy Chief Nikolai] Patrushev and also by President Putin," the judge said, according to The Guardian.
Glushkov and Berezovsky were both close associates of Arkadi "Badri" Patarkatsishvili, a businessman and politician in the Republic of Georgia, a country invaded by Russia in a bloody 2008 war, as CNN records. Called "Georgia's richest man" by Forbes Magazine, Patarkatsishvili fled his native country for the U.K. in 2007 after being accused of plotting a coup against the Georgian government.
But in 2008, the Georgia billionaire suddenly collapsed and died at his home in Surrey, a county in southeast England. Though his death was reported as resulting from a heart attack, investigators termed it "suspicious," The Telegraph reported and came shortly after he gave an interview claiming that two attempts to assassinate him had already been made and that the Georgian government had given an ongoing order to kill him.