Residents and neighbours have told of their shock and fear after Russian businessman and long-time critic of Vladimir Putin Nikolai Glushkov was found dead in his home in New Malden.
Glushkov’s body was discovered by his daughter on March 12. Police launched a murder investigation a week later after a postmortem found he died from “compression to the neck”.
The home he rented, along with several adjoining houses, was cordoned off and a blue and a purple tent erected to cover the front drive of the property.
Glushkov’s neighbours told the Kingston Courier they were shocked to hear that such a crime had been committed in such a quiet suburban area.
Nurse Kate Fitzsimmons, 87, who lived opposite Glushkov, said: “I feel scared to even walk up the road by myself now.
“He used to wave to me whenever I saw him. I came back to town on Tuesday and couldn’t believe that a mysterious death happened just across the road from me.
“On Tuesday (March 13), the police came with a van and seemed like they took the body away.”
Eva Ryan, 45, who has lived on the road for five years, described the incident as “shocking”.
“This just proves it could happen anywhere,” she said. “We knew something was amiss and once the gazebos went up we knew it was a death.
“You don’t expect it, certainly in New Malden. It’s a nice community, but strange things happen.”
Rajagopal Rao, 43, said he was “taken aback” when he returned home with his two children and saw so many police officers and media representatives gathered on the “quiet street”.
And local resident Mrs Sweeney said she learned of the death while walking home.
“I was returning from church last Monday around half past eight and that’s when the policemen said I cannot walk on that pathway,” she said.
“I have lived here for more than 30 years and it was always a quiet road.”
But while some residents were scared, other were unfazed. New Malden resident Mr Graham told the Courier there was no reason to feel overwhelmed or frightened.
He added that London has been dangerous for years and said it should be of no surprise to anyone that crimes can happen near them.
Counter-terrorism officers have been carrying out house-to-house inquiries near Glushkov’s home and are appealing for witnesses.
The Metropolitan Police has not linked Glushkov’s death to the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury earlier this month.
“There is no evidence to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury,” the Met said in a statement.
Skripal, a former officer from Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency who in 1995 began secretly working for MI6, was found slumped on a bench poisoned by a rare nerve agent in Salisbury along with his daughter, Yulia, on March 4. A police investigation is ongoing.
There has been speculation around Glushkov’s close links to another Putin critic, Boris Berezovsky, who died almost exactly five years ago. Berezovsky was found hanged in the bathroom of his Berkshire home with a scarf tied around his neck in March 2013. An inquest into his death recorded an open verdict.
Glushkov, 68, who was jailed in 1999 for five years after being charged with money laundering and fraud, was a deputy director of Russian state airline Aeroflot and also worked for Berezovksy’s LogoVAZ car company.
Glushkov was also friends with Marina Litvinenko whose husband Alexander was poisoned with a rare radioactive isotope in 2006.
He also has a link to Andrei Lugovoi, an ex-KGB agent who was named in a public inquiry as one of Litvinenko’s killers. In 2001, Lugovoi – who denies involvement in Litvinenko’s murder – was arrested and charged with organising an “escape” attempt for Glushkov, who was being detained in a Russian hospital. Glushkov claimed the incident was a set-up by the Federal Security Service (FSB)
There have been no arrests so far in the investigation into Glushkov’s death, police said.
Pictures and inputs by Hanna Geissler and Katie Horsfall