Counterterrorism police have been called in to investigate the unexplained death of a 68-year-old Russian exile who had claimed political asylum in the UK.
The death is believed to be that of Nikolay Glushkov, who was convicted of fraud and money-laundering in Russia and served five years in prison before being released and fleeing to the UK.
He was found dead on Monday night. Damian Kudryavtsev, the editor of the Moscow Times newspaper, confirmed the news on Facebook.
Police were quick to suggest there is currently no evidence to link the death to events in Salisbury, where the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a weapons-grade nerve agent that was only ever produced in Russia. They remain in a critical but stable condition.
Scotland Yard said in a statement: "Police were called by the London Ambulance Service at 22:46 on Monday, 12 March to reports of a man found deceased at a residential address in Clarence Avenue, New Malden.
"Officers attended and next of kin have been informed. Whilst we believe we know the identity of the deceased, formal identification is yet to take place. A post-mortem examination will be held in due course.
"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."
Glushkov was a close friend and business associate of Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch who was found dead at his ex-wife's home in 2013. Police said he killed himself but Glushkov told the Guardian in 2013 that he suspected foul play.
"Boris was strangled. Either he did it himself or with the help of someone. [But] I don't believe it was suicide," he said. "Too many deaths [of Russian exiles] have been happening."
Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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