LONDON: Britain's police and security services are making contact with Russians living in exile in the UK over their safety after the murder of a Russian businessman at his London home earlier this week.
Nikolai Glushkov's body was discovered by his family and friends late on Monday night and a post-mortem concluded he had been killed by "compression to the neck".
Yesterday, Scotland Yard launched a murder inquiry into the death of the 68-year-old, a known opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin who had been granted political asylum in the UK in 2010 after he fled Moscow.
"The Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, which has led the investigation from the outset, is now treating Mr Glushkov's death as murder.
As a precaution, the command is retaining primacy for the investigation because of the associations Mr Glushkov is believed to have had," the Met Police said in a statement.
The force stressed that at this stage there is nothing to suggest any link between the murder and the attempted murders of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4, nor any evidence that Glushkov was poisoned like them.
"There are no wider public health concerns in relation to this investigation," the Met Police said, appealing for witnesses to come forward.
According to the BBC, police and the security services have reassessed their view that other Russian exiles living in the UK are at low risk of harm and have been contacting others based in the country to warn them of risk to their lives.
Glushkov was the former deputy director of Russian state airline Aeroflot.
He was jailed in Russia in 1999 for five years after being charged with money laundering and fraud.
In 2017, during a trial in absentia in Russia, Glushkov was sentenced to eight years in prison for allegedly stealing 123 million USD from Aeroflot.
The airline went on to pursue the case in London and Glushkov was due to attend a hearing on the morning of March 12 at London's Commercial Court but failed to appear and was found dead later that day at his home in New Malden, south-west London.
He had been a close friend of Boris Berezovsky, who also lived in exile in Britain and was found hanged in his ex-wife's home in Berkshire in 2013.
Both men were known critics of Putin.
According to some media reports, as many 14 deaths in the UK have been linked to the Russian state or mafia allies even though police investigations and inquests did not find evidence of any crime.
Glushkov's death comes in the same week as UK home secretary Amber Rudd announced that some of those deaths are to be reinvestigated by police and Britain's internal MI5 security service.
The Glushkov murder further heightens already tense diplomatic relations between Britain and Russia since the Skripals were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury after being poisoned by a deadly Russian-made nerve agent.
Britain has declared the Russian state to be 'culpable' in their attempted murder, while the Kremlin has categorically denied any involvement.