In recent months Nikolai Glushkov had been in good spirits. True, he had to go into hospital in December from an operation on his foot but remained characteristically cheerful, returning to his home in Kingston, south-west London, and hobbling round on crutches.
Charming, with impeccable English, and debonair, Glushkov was well liked. He gave large parties attended by his friends and their children and chatted to his neighbours. His death last weekend was entirely unexpected.
But his daughter Natalaya, in London, and son Dmitry in Moscow had suspected foul play immediately. On Monday Glushkov didn’t show up to a court hearing at the commercial Rolls Building in London. He had spent months preparing for the case. He was due to defend himself against long-running claims of fraud from Russia’s state airline Aeroflot. When he didn’t appear Natalya went to investigate. She found her father at home, dead and with strangulation marks on his neck. The scene was disordered.
On Friday police confirmed he was murdered. Why? Glushkov was a close friend of the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky. They worked together in Russia in the 1980s and 1990s, with Glushkov becoming Aeroflot’s chief financial officer.
When Berezovsky fell out with Putin and escaped to London, Glushkov was arrested in Moscow. He finally got out in 2004 and joined his friend in exile.
The two were close. Berezovsky would telephone fellow oligarchs when Glushkov was behind bars, begging them to help. Glushkov believed he had been taken hostage so that Berezovsky would sell his ORT TV station to state interests.
When Berezovsky was found hanged after losing a court battle against Roman Abramovich, Glushkov was convinced this was murder. “The deaths of too many Russian exiles are happening,” he said.
Another victim was Alexander Litvinenko, whom Glushkov knew well. Glushkov investigated the case, talked to journalists and visited the Guardian office in London – a well-groomed man in late middle age, with silver hair, and carrying an unshakable grievance.
He believed the British authorities were failing to take these deaths seriously and to punish the perpetrator in the Kremlin. His murder seems to prove his point. [Continue reading…]
Don’t miss the latest posts at Attention to the Unseen: Sign up for email updates.