Murder of Kremlin critic in London ‘was made to look like suicide’

Nikolai Glushkov was strangled by assailant who then wrapped dog lead around his neck, inquest told

Nikolai Glushkov Nikolai Glushkov’s body was discovered on 12 March 2018 at his home in New Malden, south-west London. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PANikolai Glushkov’s body was discovered on 12 March 2018 at his home in New Malden, south-west London. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

The prominent Kremlin critic Nikolai Glushkov was strangled at his home in south-west London by an unknown assailant who wrapped a dog lead around his neck in a crude attempt to “simulate” the appearance of suicide, an inquest heard.

Glushkov’s body was discovered on 12 March 2018 at his suburban home in New Malden. His daughter Natalia Glushkova told the hearing that she and Glushkov’s partner, Denis Trushin, had called round that evening after growing concerned.

They discovered Glushkov lying face down in the hallway. A “red dog lead” had been double looped around his neck. There were “marks” and obvious signs of bruising, the inquest heard. A small two-step ladder was found next to his body, as well as a blue rope on the staircase.

A postmortem, however, found signs Glushkov had been murdered. These included fractures to his larynx and hyoid bones, as well as superficial injuries to his face. A paramedic who came to the scene, Dominic Beil, said he immediately summoned police because he felt the scene was suspicious.

Beil said that in suicide cases the ladder was typically kicked over but in this case remained upright. He said he found Glushkova sobbing in the kitchen. Glushkov was dressed in a green polo shirt and tracksuit bottoms and was clearly dead, he said.

The inquest was told Glushkov’s murderer had ambushed him from behind and had rapidly subdued his victim. There were no signs of “prolonged grappling”. Glushkov had taken mild sedatives and a glass of alcohol but this had not played a role in what a coroner ruled on Friday was an “unlawful killing”.

Glushkov was a close friend of the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who was himself found dead in 2013 at his ex-wife’s mansion in Berkshire. Glushkov, Berezovsky and Alexander Litvinenko – killed in 2006 with radioactive tea – were high-profile London-based opponents of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. All are now dead.

A week before Glushkov was murdered, two Russian intelligence officers poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury using novichok, a deadly Soviet-developed nerve agent. Detectives believe Glushkov may also have been the victim of a professional assassin sent by Moscow, but have so far struggled to identify a suspect or suspects.

The inquest heard Metropolitan police officers had identified 537 individuals during their three-year investigation. However, so far they have not pinpointed a concrete suspect. Nor were they able to find a conclusive motive for Glushkov’s murder.

Speaking on Friday, Glushkova said the coroner had confirmed her “beloved father” was murdered. “His killer tried to stage a suicide, but the pathology evidence saw right through that. Unfortunately, despite SO15’s three-year-long investigation, his killer has escaped justice.” SO15 is the UK police’s counter-terrorism division.

She said she was relieved that the case had not been added to the long list of Russian émigrés whose suspicious deaths were never fully explained. “My father was politically persecuted for most of his life and until his last breath,” she added.

“I am hopeful that the investigation into his murder will continue and, one day, those responsible for his murder will be brought to justice in the UK courts.”

Speaking to the Guardian in 2019, Glushkova described the scene at her father’s home as a “trashy setup of a suicide”. She said she did not want to speculate on who might have killed him or why. She described him as a “charismatic and vibrant energy ball” who was positive and incapable of harming himself.


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