By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) – A former director of Russian state airline Aeroflot found dead in a London apartment on Monday was a close affiliate of the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, according to local media reports.
The death, though as of now officially deemed unrelated, is under heightened scrutiny due to the recent poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in England, both now in critical condition.
British police confirmed the death of “a man” at a residential address in Clarence Avenue, New Malden in London, and his family members were informed, giving no details of the deceased person’s identity.
However, local media outlets, including the Guardian, argued that the man found dead was Nikolai Glushkov, 68, based on social media posts by some of his friends.
Glushkov had lived in London after his release from prison in 2004 after a five-year jail term due to a money laundering conviction in Russia. He was later granted asylum in the U.K.
Glushkov was a close friend of another Russian man, Boris Berezovsky, who was granted asylum in the U.K. after he faced a jail term in Russia.
Berezovsky was found hanged in a home in Berkshire, England in 2013.
At the time of Berezovsky’s death, Glushkov said he believed his friend had been murdered.
“I don't believe Boris died of natural causes. Too many deaths [of Russian exiles] have been happening,” he told the Guardian.
Berzovsky’s death is among as many as 14 other deaths reviewed by intelligence services and police following the recent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who are both in hospital in critical condition.
Glushkov was due to appear at a U.K. court in a case where Aeroflot claimed he stole $123 million from them. Last year a Russian court found Glushkov guilty and sentenced him in absentia to eight years in prison, said the Guardian.
“The death is currently being treated as an unexplained,” a London police statement said.
Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on March 4 in the southern English city of Salisbury.
“Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday.
The incident has drawn comparisons to the fate of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 after drinking radioactive tea. Former KGB bodyguards identified as suspects in the murder denied any involvement.
Berezovsky was known as a friend of Litvinenko, the reports also suggested.
“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,” said the police statement on Glushkov’s death.
“There is no evidence to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury,” it added.