London police officials said Friday they are investigating the mysterious death of a Russian exile as a homicide, after a post-mortem revealed signs of foul play.
Nikolai Glushkov, a close friend of deceased Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, was discovered dead in his London home on Monday. At the time, investigators were unable to determine the cause of death.
A special autopsy conducted Thursday determined the cause to be “compression to the neck,” Metropolitan police said in a statement. As a result, the agency’s Counter Terrorism Command, which has led the investigation from the beginning, is now treating Glushkov’s death as murder.
The determination comes as Britain is responding to a nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England last week. Britain has blamed the Kremlin for orchestrating the attack and ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian intelligence officers posing as diplomats.
After the Skripal incident, British authorities announced they were re-opening investigations into 14 suspicious deaths that U.S. intelligence sources have reportedly linked to the Russian government. Berezovsky’s death is among the cases being re-examined.
A powerful businessman in Russia, Berezovsky helped facilitate the rise of Russian President Vladimir Putin in late 1990s. He later fell out of favor with Putin’s government and fled to London, where he became a prominent critic of the Kremlin.
Berezovsky was found hanging in his home in hanging in his home in Berkshire in 2013. Police ruled his death a suicide, but others, including the coroner, said other causes of death were possible.
For his part, Glushkov spent five years in Russian jail on fraud and money laundering charges. Fearing another arrest after his release in 2004, he fled to the U.K .and was granted political asylum.
At the time of his death, Glushkov was set to defend a lawsuit against him by Russian airline Aeroflot in commercial court in London, reports the Guardian. He failed to appear in court on Monday, and his body was discovered that evening.
At this time, there is no link between Glushkov’s death and the attempted murders of Skripal and his daughter, police said.
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