POISON IN THE SYSTEM

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POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:45 am

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Poison in the System

When a financier dropped dead in Britain shortly after exposing a vast Russian crime, police said it was not suspicious. But with his inquest now underway, BuzzFeed News has uncovered explosive evidence of a suspected Kremlin assassination plot – and a secret assignation in Paris on the eve of his death – that the British authorities have sidelined.

Posted on June 12, 2017, at 2:39 p.m.

By Heidi Blake (BuzzFeed News Investigations Editor, UK) Jason Leopold (BuzzFeed News Reporter) Jane Bradley (Investigations Correspondent) Richard Holmes (Investigations Reporter) Tom Warren (Investigations Correspondent) Alex Campbell (BuzzFeed News Deputy Investigations Editor, UK)

The British government is suppressing explosive intelligence that Alexander Perepilichnyy, a financier who exposed a vast financial crime by Russian government officials, was likely assassinated on the direct orders of Vladimir Putin.

Perepilichnyy, who faced repeated threats after fleeing to Britain, was found dead outside his home in Surrey after returning from a mysterious trip to Paris in 2012. Despite an expert detecting signs of a fatal plant poison in his stomach, the British police have insisted there was no evidence of foul play, and Theresa May’s government has invoked national security powers to withhold evidence from the inquest into his cause of death – which is ongoing.

But an investigation by BuzzFeed News has now obtained fresh evidence that the authorities have deliberately sidelined, and has uncovered how Perepilichnyy spent his last days in Paris. Secret documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials in the US, France, and the UK reveal:

US spies said they have passed MI6 high-grade intelligence indicating that Perepilichnyy was likely "assassinated on direct orders from Putin or people close to him” and lambasted the British police for their “botched” investigation.

A highly classified report on Russian state assassinations compiled for the US Congress by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last year asserts with “high confidence” that Perepilichnyy’s murder was sanctioned by Putin, Russia's president.

French police are treating the financier’s death as a suspected organised assassination – but say they have been repeatedly stonewalled by their British counterparts.

Perepilichnyy travelled to Paris before his death for a secret assignation with a 22-year-old Ukrainian woman named Elmira Medynska, who gave an exclusive interview to BuzzFeed News, but who British and French police never spoke to.

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Elmira Medynska / Via Instagram: @elmiramedins

The British government refused to comment on the revelations before Perepilichnyy’s inquest – a judicial inquiry to establish his cause of death – reaches a verdict, and the Russian embassy in London did not respond to questions from BuzzFeed News. But Theresa May is now likely to face urgent questions about her role in suppressing evidence said to point to a Russian assassination on British soil amid mounting international concern that the Kremlin is brazenly interfering in the West. The prime minister directed the government’s successful bid to withhold documents from Perepilichnyy’s inquest on national security grounds, and as home secretary her department oversaw the police force that concluded the whistleblower’s death was not suspicious.

Former MI6, counterterror, and police officials expressed disbelief at the refusal by the British authorities to countenance a full murder investigation into Perepilichnyy’s death. “It’s so obvious that it’s an assassination,” said Chris Phillips, the former head of Britain’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office. “There’s no way it wasn’t a hit. It’s ridiculous.” A former Scotland Yard commander said the police position was “very worrying”. And at the inquest last week, the most senior officer at the scene of Perepilichnyy's death, who has since retired, contradicted the official police line and said he now believes the "the death is suspicious".

Across the Atlantic, five current high-ranking US intelligence officials have warned that Britain is failing to get to grips with the increased threat from an emboldened Russia – and three of them have taken the extraordinary step of chastising British law enforcement. “The Kremlin has aggressively stepped up its efforts to eliminate and silence its enemies abroad over the past couple of years – particularly in Britain,” one senior US spy told BuzzFeed News. A second serving intelligence official said the “incompetent” British police “should have to answer for their actions and be held accountable” for shutting down any investigation into Perepilichnyy’s death.

"We strongly believe that Perepilichnyy was assassinated on direct orders from Putin or people close to him."
– Senior US intelligence official


BuzzFeed News has confirmed that British spy agencies secretly received intelligence from the US that connected Perepilichnyy’s death to the Kremlin. But MI6 officers who agreed with that conclusion were apparently silenced, a third serving US intelligence official said, because “their efforts to publicly declare that Perepilichnyy was assassinated on British soil had deeper political implications”.

US and UK officials said the British government was anxious not to inflame diplomatic tensions with Russia. The decision to charge two Russian secret service hitmen with the radioactive poisoning of KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 caused a 10-year standoff with the Kremlin. Several officials said the British government was particularly keen to preserve the flow of Russian money into London banks and properties.

Concerned about Russia’s increasingly bold moves in the West, the US Congress asked America’s top intelligence official to prepare a highly classified report “on the use of political assassinations as a form of statecraft by the Russian Federation” since Putin’s rise to power, which was submitted last year. Two US intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News that the report, produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with assistance from the CIA and NSA, asserts with “high confidence” that Perepilichnyy was assassinated on Kremlin orders. Citing “classification constraints”, an ODNI spokesperson said the agency had “no comment beyond confirming that we prepared the report for Congress”, and a CIA spokesman declined to comment on intelligence matters.

In France, authorities have designated the case a suspected organised assassination, BuzzFeed News can reveal. French police have tried to investigate whether Perepilichnyy was poisoned during his visit to Paris, but four senior French law enforcement officials said British authorities had repeatedly frustrated those efforts.

The French officials said the British had failed to hand over any evidence, insisting Perepilichnyy’s death was not suspicious and telling the Paris police to await the outcome of the inquest – which has been delayed for more than four years. A senior detective on the case told BuzzFeed News it was “strange” that the British were stonewalling any investigation into a death that is “obviously suspicious”.

Perepilichnyy collapsed and died while out jogging near his home in the exclusive gated community of St George’s Hill in Surrey on 10 November 2012, after returning that morning from Paris. The financier, who was born in Ukraine but made his fortune in Moscow, had been receiving threats since lifting the lid on a $230 million tax fraud by corrupt Russian government officials two years before.

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Alexander Perepilichnyy

At first, Perepilichnyy had been one of the perpetrators, helping to launder the stolen funds into Swiss bank accounts owned by his mafia-linked government clients. But when a lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky died following months of mistreatment in prison after reporting the fraud, the financier turned against his paymasters. He fled to Britain and blew the whistle in 2010 – handing evidence to Swiss prosecutors and, sources say, becoming a prized asset for Western intelligence agencies investigating the flow of illicit money out of Russia. Perepilichnyy received a stream of threats and learned he was on a Russian mafia hit list.

Medical checks required by a life insurance policy gave him a clean bill of health in 2012. Nevertheless, when his lifeless body was found by the side of the road months later on a drizzly November afternoon, Surrey police concluded that he had died naturally of a heart attack. Officers announced that a “full and detailed range of toxicology tests” had found nothing suspicious in his system and there was “no evidence to suggest that there was any third-party involvement” in his death. The case was closed.

Then, just over two years after the death, came an astonishing revelation. Perepilichnyy’s life insurance company had ordered a fresh battery of tests – and its lawyers told the coroner overseeing a preliminary inquest hearing that a plant expert at Kew Gardens had identified traces of a deadly poison in his stomach. The toxin, the expert said, appeared to come from a rare Chinese flowering plant called gelsemium – nicknamed “heartbreak grass” because its leaves trigger cardiac arrest if ingested. The inquest was suspended while further tests were carried out.

The revelation was enough to convince the French to open an investigation of their own into Perepilichnyy’s trip to Paris in the four days before his death. Detectives noted in official files that the financier was “clearly threatened with death in Russia” and had told Swiss prosecutors that “he was on a list of future victims of the Russian mafia”. The French offered to assist the British. But the UK authorities maintained that the case was unsuspicious – even after the plant expert discovered gelsemium traces – and that no further investigation was necessary ahead of the inquest. Surrey police told BuzzFeed News they were cooperating fully with the coroner who will rule independently on Perepilichnyy's cause of death.

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Exterior of Le Bristol, in Paris, France
Stephane Mahe / Reuters

The Paris visit was shrouded in mystery – none of Perepilichnyy’s family, friends, or business associates knew what he had been doing in the French capital. The only clues were that the financier had taken a Eurostar train on 6 November and his credit card statements suggest he had booked into two hotels simultaneously. He returned on the 10th with a €1,200 receipt from the Prada store on the Champs-Élysées but nothing to show for the purchase.

BuzzFeed News can now reveal that the French police seized hotel records showing that Perepilichnyy was joined at the five-star Bristol hotel by Elmira Medynska, a young Ukrainian woman who claimed online to have trained as a fashion designer in Moscow. The records show that the pair stayed for two nights, ordering the hotel’s “romance pack”, and checked out on 10 November. It was later that same day that Perepilichnyy died.

French detectives told BuzzFeed News that Medynska had been identified as a “very important” person to their inquiry because “she’s one of the last persons to have seen Mr Perepilichnyy alive” – but they said delays to their investigation caused by the lack of British cooperation meant they had not been able to interview her.

Medynska said she has never spoken to any law enforcement official about her encounter with Perepilichnyy. But BuzzFeed News tracked her down to an opulent penthouse apartment on the glitzy Avenue Victor Hugo in Paris and obtained the story of Perepilichnyy’s last days in an exclusive interview.
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Via Instagram: @elmiramedins

Medynska, now 27, is well over 6 feet tall, with white-blonde hair, sharp-angled features, and penetrating dark eyes. Perched on a chaise in her high-ceilinged apartment, she said she had seen Perepilichnyy only twice before the Paris trip – meeting him first at an exclusive restaurant and nightspot called Leo in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in 2012, before travelling to join him for a short holiday in Nice on the French Riviera. She was then in her early twenties and had set up her own “haute couture” business in Ukraine. She struggled to remember how they first came to be in contact but said Perepilichnyy, a tall, tousle-haired 44-year-old, may have reached out to her via social media and asked her to meet him in Kiev. He was “very charming”, she said, a “nice, intelligent, handsome man” with “gentle eyes” who liked to take her shopping and send her roses.

Medynska travelled from Ukraine to meet Perepilichnyy in Paris on 8 November, but said she did not know that by then he had already been in the city for two days. No one, including the French police, has been able to establish what he was doing, where he stayed or who he saw between the 6th and the morning of the 8th. When Medynska arrived, she said the financier took her for lunch at the Four Seasons and then shopping on the Champs-Élysées. The mystery of the Prada receipt can finally be solved: He bought her a handbag from the designer store, as well as a pair of black Louboutin shoes. “He was showing me the Paris,” Medynska said, in heavily accented English.

But, she recalled, it was clear that something was wrong. “I was feeling from him that he was very stressed,” she said. He kept going outside to take mysterious phone calls that seemed to spook him, she recalled, and she noticed that “his hands were shaking” and he was drinking “lots of wine”, which he spilled down his front. While she was trying on shoes, she said, he was “worrying, walking from side to side” – and was so distracted that he bought her Louboutins in the wrong size.

"It happens to Russian people in London. He gave Russian unformation to Swiss and you can be killed for that."
– Elmira Medynska


Medynska said Perepilichnyy never told her anything about his life, his family, or his work – she had no idea, she said, that he was married or was in trouble with the Russian government. The trip to Paris, she recalled, turned sour because she felt he was trying to buy her affections. “He was expecting if he would buy me some bag I would be happy with that, but in fact I was even angry with him after that,” she said. When the pair parted, she said, “He was very upset.” After they said goodbye on the morning of the 10th, she sent him “a message apologising for my mood” but never heard back. A week later, she learned that he was dead.

Perepilichnyy returned home on the morning of the 10th and ate a bowl of Russian sorrel soup prepared by his wife and 8-year-old daughter for lunch. Asked about his trip, he told his family Paris had been “really grey, gloomy”, his wife recalled at his inquest last week. He took his daughter out to PC World before going for a jog in the late afternoon. Shortly afterwards, his slumped frame was caught by the headlights of a car through the dusk and drizzle as it neared the brow of a steep hill where he had collapsed. The driver leapt out to seek help, and a local chef in full whites rushed to resuscitate him. Perepilichnyy was deathly pale, both men testified to the coroner. He threw up repeatedly into the mouth of the chef who was trying to revive him, and by the time the ambulance arrived, he was “completely non-responsive”. He was soon pronounced dead.

Medynska said the news reached her in an email from Perepilichnyy’s wife, Tatiana, who called her “bad words”. (Tatiana Perepilichnyy did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.) When Medynska googled him and read about his background, she said she was not surprised that he had died. “It happens to Russian people in London,” she said. “He gave Russian information to Swiss and you can be killed for that.”

Medynska said she was unaware that Perepilichnyy may have been poisoned and had no idea how the toxin could have entered his system. But she had a message for the British government about the threat to Russian exiles on its soil. Attracting “big money” from Russia may be “good for economy in Great Britain”, she said, but it comes at a dangerous price. In Perepilichnyy’s case, she said the authorities should have been asking, “Who is this guy? Where is his money from? Maybe he has some problems?” But, she said, “they didn’t think about this before and they didn’t do nothing to save him, so now they have only doubts and questions.”

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Instagram: @elmiramedins

Shortly after Perepilichnyy’s death, Medynska set up a fashion business in Paris and rebranded herself Elmira Medins. Her Instagram feed features glamorous selfies snapped at five-star hotels and exclusive restaurants in Paris, Dubai, and Milan. She has held couture shows at the Bristol, where she stayed with Perepilichnyy, and posted photographs at the Four Seasons, where they dined. She said references to her time studying and doing business in Russia on her website were a mistake, and, after BuzzFeed News approached her, they disappeared.

Several months after Perepilichnyy’s body was found in Surrey, Medynska said, she received an email from a British investigator, who said her messages had been found on the dead man’s phone and asked if she had met him in Paris. She replied that she had, and received a second email asking if she knew four other women with whom Perepilichnyy had been connected. She didn’t know the other women, but said she replied, giving her mobile number and offering to travel to England to help with any investigation if the investigator could get her a visa. She said she never heard from him again and that no other authority has ever approached her.

A Surrey police detective told the coroner that police were aware Perepilichnyy had met with a "Ukrainian national" in Paris and said officers had tried to call her "at first", but "that wasn't successful". Instead, he said, "we thought it would be best to email her". No formal interview was conducted, and no statement taken – meaning Perepilichnyy’s inquest will hear no evidence from the woman with whom he spent his last two days.

The inquest, which will seek to establish Perepilichnyy’s cause of death, opened on 5 June and is set to run for several weeks. It will hear conflicting evidence from the police toxicologist who ruled out poison in the initial postmortem and threw away most of Perepilichnyy's stomach contents, and the independent plant expert who later identified traces of gelsemium in what remained of the sample from the dead man’s stomach.

The hearing is being hotly contested by four interested parties. The US financier Bill Browder is investigating the $230 million fraud Perepilichnyy exposed, because the money was stolen from taxes paid by his Moscow-based hedge fund, Hermitage Capital Management. His lawyers argue that the Russian was murdered for blowing the whistle. Representatives of Perepilichnyy’s life insurance company, Legal & General, which ordered the tests that detected the gelsemium traces, are also arguing the case for murder. On the opposing side are lawyers for Surrey police, who maintain Perepilichnyy died of natural causes. The detective chief inspector in charge of the case said in a statement to the coroner that the investigation was “perhaps the most rigorous enquiry into a sudden and unexplained death” he had ever seen. BuzzFeed News has learned that the police lawyers intend to rely on evidence from experts who will dispute the gelsemium finding during upcoming hearings.

Perepilichnyy’s widow, Tatiana, is also represented, and maintained in her evidence last week that her husband died naturally. In a statement released to the press on the eve of the inquest, her lawyer said she believed "the tragic death of her husband has been overshadowed by stereotypes towards successful Russian businesspeople that have been orchestrated by Legal and General and Hermitage," and accused the two companies of having "tarnished Alexander Perepilichnyy’s good name". It said she had never been aware of any threats to her husband's life during their 20 years of marriage and did not believe that he had been poisoned. Hermitage, ​the statement said, had used her husband's death "to promote and advance their wider and long running campaign against President Putin and the Russian authorities" and had done so "with little or no regard to the damaging impact this publicity has had, and continues to have, on her family and their business interests in Russia".

"As to whether this may have been a case of 'look the other was because Russians invest in real estate and in the UK economy', I would just say follow the money. Where did it end up?"
– US intelligence official


The inquest is not expected to hear evidence from the French investigation, nor will it consider the contents of a series of documents that the UK government has sealed on national security grounds. Lawyers for Hermitage applied to the government to supply any information it held concerning any threats to Perepilichnyy's personal safety or third party involvement in his death, or to five individuals connected to the $230 million fraud. But the home secretary, Amber Rudd, successfully argued “that there would be real and significant damage to national security from disclosure” and obtained a High Court secrecy order last November. A security-cleared coroner was then brought in to review the documents and determined that they were not relevant to the cause of Perepilichnyy’s death, so the inquest could go ahead without seeing them.

Lawyers for both Hermitage and Legal & General have accused the authorities of a cover-up. Browder has also attacked the British government for failing to investigate the flow of the illicit funds from the $230 million fraud into London banks, and he has alleged that $30 million of the money stolen from Hermitage’s taxes ended up in Britain.

US intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News they, too, believed Britain had decided to turn a blind eye. One official said the police had “botched” the investigation, because “they did not immediately suspect foul play, even though Perepilichnyy was high-profile and in the Kremlin's crosshairs”. A second official offered a possible explanation for the government's apathy. “As to whether this might have been a case of ‘look the other way because Russians invest in real estate and property’, I would just say follow the money,” he said. “Where did it end up?”
https://www.buzzfeed.com/heidiblake/poi ... .af6YxlNn3



Who Poisoned Alexander Litvinenko? Radioactive thallium link
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9355
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:28 am

From Russia With Blood

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Lavish London mansions. A hand-painted Rolls-Royce. And eight dead friends. For the British fixer Scot Young, working for Vladimir Putin's most vocal critic meant stunning perks – but also constant danger. His gruesome death is one of 14 that US spy agencies have linked to Russia – but the UK police shut down every last case. A bombshell cache of documents today reveals the full story of a ring of death on British soil that the government has ignored.

Posted on June 15, 2017, at 2:52 p.m.
By Heidi Blake (BuzzFeed News Investigations Editor, UK) Tom Warren (Investigations Correspondent) Richard Holmes (Investigations Reporter) Jason Leopold (BuzzFeed News Reporter) Jane Bradley (Investigations Correspondent) Alex Campbell (BuzzFeed News Deputy Investigations Editor, UK)

The London square was still and cold when the body fell, dropping silently through the moonlight and landing with a thud. Impaled through the chest on the spikes of a wrought iron fence, it dangled under the streetlamps as blood spilled onto the pavement. Overhead, a fourth-floor window stood open, the lights inside burning.

The dead man was Scot Young. The one-time multimillionaire and fixer to the world’s super-rich had been telling friends, family, and the police for years that he was being targeted by a team of Russian hitmen – ever since his fortune vanished overnight in a mysterious Moscow property deal. He was the ninth in a circle of friends and business associates to die in suspicious circumstances. But when the police entered his penthouse that night, they didn’t even dust for fingerprints. They declared his death a suicide on the spot and closed the case.

Scot Young
Ki Price / Getty Images
Scot Young
A two-year investigation by BuzzFeed News has now uncovered explosive evidence pointing to Russia that the police overlooked. A massive trove of documents, phone records, and secret recordings shows Young was part of a circle of nine men, including the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who all died suspiciously on British soil after making powerful enemies in Russia. The files reveal that Young lived in the shadow of the Russian security services and mafia groups after fronting for Berezovsky – a sworn enemy of the state – in a series of deals that enraged the Kremlin, including the doomed Russian property deal known as Project Moscow. British police declared the deaths of all nine men in Berezovsky’s circle non-suspicious, but BuzzFeed News can now reveal that MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service, asked its US counterparts for information about each one of them “in the context of assassinations”.

Earlier this week, we revealed that US spy agencies had handed the British government high-grade intelligence that the Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, who died in Surrey in 2012, was likely assassinated on the direct orders of the Kremlin – but the authorities sidelined that and other evidence pointing to murder, instead declaring that he had died of natural causes. Today, we can reveal that US intelligence officials suspect a further 13 people – including Berezovsky and eight members of his circle – have been assassinated on British soil by Russia’s security services or mafia groups, two forces that sometimes work in tandem.

That intelligence – based on human sources, intercepted communications, and public material gathered by US spy agencies – has been shared with Britain in relation to all 14 deaths. Yet British police have ruled out foul play in every last case.

“The strongest conclusion is circumstances suggest Russian involvement in the deaths of these men”

Berezovsky was found apparently hanged in his bathroom in 2013. Police ruled it a suicide, but US intelligence officials said they suspect he was assassinated. His business partner, the Georgian oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili, dropped dead of an apparent heart attack in 2008, as did their acquaintance Yuri Golubev, the cofounder of the troubled oil giant Yukos, who died in London in 2007. American spy agencies have intelligence suggesting they were murdered, and sources on both sides of the Atlantic said that Russia is expert at using poisons that kill without a trace – particularly by triggering cardiac arrest. Two British lawyers named in US intelligence records as possible victims of Russian hits – Stephen Moss, who also succumbed to a sudden heart attack in 2003 at age 46, and Stephen Curtis, who died in a helicopter crash in 2004 – may have become targets after helping the Russian oligarchs funnel money into Britain. Three of Young’s close friends and business partners – Paul Castle, Robbie Curtis (no relation to Stephen), and Johnny Elichaoff – all lost their lives in apparent suicides in the four years before Young himself died, and they were added to files kept by US intelligence agencies documenting suspected Russian-linked assassinations. In the coming days, BuzzFeed News will reveal the identities of the other people suspected to have been assassinated.

The story of this ring of death illuminates one of the most disturbing geopolitical trends of our time – the use of assassinations by Russia’s secret services and powerful mafia groups to wipe out opponents around the globe – and the failure of British authorities to confront it.

The intelligence pointing to a campaign of targeted killings in Britain comes amid mounting international concern that the Kremlin is brazenly interfering in the West, and as the investigation into Russian ties to President Donald Trump’s advisers gathers pace.

Britain is said to be loath to inflame tensions with Vladimir Putin.
Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

The Russian government passed new laws giving its agents a licence to kill enemies of the state abroad in 2006, the same year two assassins from the FSB, Russia’s spy agency, flew to London to poison the defector and one-time KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium. Last year, a British public inquiry found that Vladimir Putin had likely approved that assassination in an act of nuclear terrorism in the British capital that was impossible for the government to ignore. But high-ranking intelligence sources said other less glaringly obvious assassinations have gone unpunished.

Russian assassins have been able to kill in Britain with impunity over the past decade, 17 current and former British and American intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News. The reasons for Britain’s reticence, they said, include fear of retaliation, police incompetence, and a desire to preserve the billions of pounds of Russian money that pour into British banks and properties each year. As a result, Russia is making what one source called increasingly “bold moves” in the UK without fear of reprisals.

Prime minister Theresa May is facing growing calls to respond to claims that her government has concealed evidence relating to Russian assassinations in Britain. In her six years as home secretary, she spearheaded the British government’s response to national security threats and presided over cuts of £2.3 billion from the national law enforcement budget that several senior officers have blamed for a drastic reduction in police capabilities. May personally intervened to delay the public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death, citing the need to protect “international relations” with Russia. And in the Perepilichnyy case, her government has withheld sensitive evidence from the inquest on “national security” grounds. Downing Street, the Home Office and Scotland Yard did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The core reason British authorities have turned a blind eye, a current senior national security adviser to the British government told BuzzFeed News, is fear. Ministers, he said, were not prepared to take the “political risk of dealing firmly and effectively in whatever way with the activities of the Russian state and Russian-organised crime in the UK” because the Kremlin could inflict massive harm on Britain by unleashing cyberattacks, destabilising the economy, or mobilising elements of Britain’s large Russian population to “cause disruption”. Deep law enforcement funding cuts mean “our capabilities are very weak”, he said. It was also impossible to rule out the risk of “general war with Russia” in the current climate, he said, and “if it were to happen it would happen very, very rapidly, and we would be entirely unprepared”. As a result, he concluded, ministers “desperately don’t want to antagonise the Russians” and senior figures in government had told him bluntly that there was “no political appetite to deal with the Russian Federation”.

“Is there an appetite to take on the political risk of dealing firmly with the activities of the Russian state and organised crime in the UK? Absolutely not”

Senior US intelligence officials said they had been watching the pattern of suspected assassinations across the Atlantic with mounting alarm, concerned that it could spread to American shores. Their fears intensified following the strange death of the Russia Today founder Mikhail Lesin – who died of blunt force trauma to the head, neck, legs, arms, and torso in a Washington, DC, hotel room in 2015. Investigators announced that he had sustained his fatal injuries by falling while drunk – but a former senior national security official, echoing others, told BuzzFeed News the death had been privately viewed as “suspicious”, and there was “concern” that the Russian government would “start doing here what they do with some regularity in London”.

The existence of American intelligence linking the 14 deaths in Britain to Russia was confirmed by four current US intelligence officials with direct knowledge of the information the spy agencies had gathered on each case. In certain instances, they said, it was possible to say with high or moderate confidence that assassinations had been carried out on Putin’s command. In others, it could not be determined with certainty whether individuals had been targeted by the Kremlin, murdered by Russian mafia figures, or deliberately driven to suicide – and they could not rule out the possibility that some of the deaths could be unconnected to Russia. But in all 14 cases, “based on what we know and intelligence gathered in the field and analysed,” one of the officials said, “you can safely say that the strongest conclusion is that circumstances suggest Russian involvement in the deaths of these men and then demand more investigation from UK."

A CIA spokesman declined to comment on intelligence matters, but Steven Hall, chief of Russia operations at the agency until 2013, told BuzzFeed News that the 10-year diplomatic standoff triggered by the investigation into Litvinenko’s killing had imposed a “significant hindrance” on relations between Moscow and London. After that murder, the UK authorities had failed to respond firmly when people in Britain “started dying on a regular basis due to Russian assassinations”. MI6 officials, he recalled, had repeatedly told him “we know the Russians have an active programme of killing people in the UK that they don’t like” but had blamed the failure to prevent the killings on Scotland Yard, the HQ of Britain’s premier police force. The result, Hall said, was chilling. Russian agents were able “to conduct these operations in the UK relatively easily," he said. “Basically, get to the UK, and kill.”

“We know the Russians have an active programme of killing people in the UK”

A senior US intelligence official, who is still serving and cannot be named, told BuzzFeed News that the British have “downplayed involvement of Russians on their soil for years”. Reflecting the views of several sources, he added: “The Brits made a deal years ago that the Russians could come in and spend money on housing and stimulate the economy and they’ll look the other way.”

Richard Walton, Scotland Yard's counter-terror commander until last year, acknowledged that there had been a series of suspicious deaths connected to Russia over the past decade. While the anti-terrorism branch of the force was “never complacent”, he said, investigating such cases is “very, very dangerous territory” and “completely out of the scope of local police” who have no experience of the sophisticated tactics at play. “It is a completely different dimension,” he explained. “When you come up against an entire country with nuclear power, they have tremendous resources.”

Walton said Russian assassins are often extremely adept at “disguising murder”. They are expert at staging suicides by planting evidence to make victims appear to have been depressed, counter-terror officers told BuzzFeed News, or even using drugs and psychological tactics to drive them into taking their own lives. In the case of state assassinations, Putin’s government had amassed “a suite of chemical and biological agents that were developed for targeted assassinations” so killers could do their work without leaving a trace, a former top-ranking MI6 official said. And Britain’s secret service was hamstrung in its ability to share intelligence pointing to Russian complicity, sources said, because of the need to protect confidential informants.

So even when intelligence strongly pointed to an assassination, police and intelligence sources said, there was often too little evidence to make a case stand up in court. In such instances, they said it could be easier to pronounce a death unsuspicious than to stoke diplomatic tensions and public alarm over an accusation of political assassination that probably wouldn’t stick.

Several senior Scotland Yard and MI6 sources strongly denied that the British government would ever cover up an assassination for political reasons. But others disagreed. Carl Davenport, a former Scotland Yard counter-terror officer, said the government withholds evidence from coroners “quite a lot” in order to pass off Russian-linked deaths as suicides, in part because it’s “diplomatically easier” and they are “scared of angering Russia, who are known to be quite ruthless”. Nigel Anderson, a former MI6 officer, said there is a clear pattern of “brazen” Russian assassinations in Britain “right out in the daylight” – and it has been allowed to continue because “the UK is soft on such things”.

Police and intelligence sources said the arrival in Britain of a wave of oligarchs – some fleeing Putin’s autocratic regime, others seeking a place in the West for their families and cash – coincided with the diversion of almost all Britain's national security resources into the fight against terrorism after the 11 September attacks in the US in 2001. That, they said, had allowed London to become a crucible of Russian secret service and mafia activity. Greg MacKay-Lear, a former Scotland Yard counter-terror officer, said the government had made a “tactical and strategic blunder” by taking its eye off Russian operations in London at a critical time.

Boris Berezovsky
John Downing / Getty Images

Berezovsky, a flamboyant oligarch and mathematician, was the linchpin of a group of Russian exiles, including Litvinenko, who made a home in Britain after Putin took power in 2000 and quickly cracked down on competing power sources, including oligarchs who dared to buck him. Berezovsky had initially supported Putin but became a leading enemy of the president’s regime, using his fortune to finance an international campaign of opposition from his new home in an exclusive enclave of Surrey just outside London. The Russian president holds great sway over his country’s super-rich – doling out vast wealth to his favourites and impoverishing those who cross him. But as Putin demolished Berezovsky’s business empire within Russia, Young was part of a close network of associates who helped funnel his money through offshore trusts and front for his deals in London and – more dangerously – in Moscow.

BuzzFeed News obtained 250 boxes of documents containing secret details of Young’s perilous business dealings on Berezovsky’s behalf, recovered files from his computers, forensically imaged his phones, reviewed hours of surveillance footage and covert recordings, interviewed more than 150 people, secured the police evidence bag that included his bloody shoes, and examined vital clues from the scene of his death that the police missed or ignored.

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Evidence from the scene of Young's death, obtained by BuzzFeed News – including the phones in his pocket when he fell.
Laura Gallant / BuzzFeed
Evidence from the scene of Young's death, obtained by BuzzFeed News – including the phones in his pocket when he fell.
The evidence reveals Young became embroiled in a series of perilous deals with Berezovsky, including the Project Moscow development in the Russian capital, doing everything he could to cover his tracks because he knew the oligarch’s involvement would anger the Kremlin. Privately, he boasted that his Russian investment partner had deep connections to the Russian security services, and told a fellow investor that they would be protected because he had “paid off” the powerful mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov. But that assurance proved hollow: The scheme fell apart, and Russia’s chief prosecutors went after the investors for “economic crimes”. Luzhkov categorically denied having any involvement in Project Moscow or accepting corrupt payments, while Young’s Russian business partner called it “the cleanest deal you can imagine” and noted that no one was ever charged with any crimes.

In the years after the scheme collapsed, documents suggest FSB spies monitored Young’s activities. He became so terrified of assassination as eight of his associates died in rapid succession that he sought protection from British gangsters linked to the Russian mafia. And in his final years, Young secretly helped broker another deal with Berezovsky that enraged the Russian government to such an extent that Andrey Lugovoy – one of the two assassins sent to poison Litvinenko, according to the UK public inquiry – called on the Russian state to crack down on all those involved.

Young’s activities had attracted such concern, one US intelligence source told BuzzFeed News, that his communications were being tapped by the US National Security Agency. “This guy Young: looks like there’s NSA intel on him,” he said, adding: “Comms were intercepted.” The intelligence gleaned was sensitive enough, the source said, that some information about Young had been marked Top Secret – the highest classification level, reserved only for information that would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if it became public.

We rebuilt the phone in Scot Young’s pocket when he fell
From: Unknown
To: Scot Young
2014-10-21
[Bank] Details as requested. **** **-**-** [NAME REDACTED]. Pls let me know asap. Tks
From: Konstantine
To: Scot Young
2014-10-22
[Bank], **-**-**, ********, Mr. K. Tsiftsis
From: Unknown
To: Scot Young
2014-11-16
My number is +************. Save it. xxxx
From: Jonathan
To: Scot Young
2014-11-20
Account ********
sort code **-**-**
iban: **** **** **** ***** **
swift *******
Basically by chance I meet the broker who sold ******
We both got shafted
From: Ed
To: Scot Young
2014-11-21
Grant Thornton have sent me a letter. I have to elect 5 creditors for a committee. Any objections?
From: Justin
To: Scot Young
Wire details: JPMorgan chase bank [ADDRESS REDACTED]
ABA ********
Swift: ********
Acct: ********
For account of Justin [REDACTED]. What's happening on your end?
From: Unknown
To: Scot Young
2014-12-02
Hola! U in the UK? X
From: Unknown
To: Scot Young
2014-12-03
Hi Scot, there is a 'Curator Talk: Alexander McQueen' on at the V&A mid March 2015, I spoke with Rhian, an Events Officer, & it seems just the sort of thing Annabelle [REDACTED] should be involved in. Could you ask her? [REDACTED]
From: Unknown
To: Scot Young
2014-12-04
Hi Scot, how's things? How about lunch sometime? Joff
From: Scot Young
To: Ben
2014-12-05
I will sort! I have cracked up in nut house for a few days. Pls spk 2 me monday. I understand x
From: Scot Young
To: Ben
2014-12-05
Ok i understand. Pls lets spk monday. X
From: Scot Young
To: Ben
2014-12-05
Not yet! Will explain monday. Will not let u down. And also want to show u this deal. Im in hospital for a couple of days. Will explain monday. Personal issues. Enjoy ur time x
From: Colin
To: Scot Young
2014-12-06
All i need is the truth from you and i can sort this out. Everyone needs to trust someone. suggest you call me.
From: Ian
To: Scot Young
2014-12-06
****** ******** are my numbers for tomorrow. Thx
On way just stopped for rations, see u in 10
From: Unknown
To: Scot Young
2014-12-07
y on this tv show u ok?
From: Philip
To: Scot Young
2014-12-07
Just tried to reach you and left a message. P.
From: Dave
To: Scot Young
2014-12-08
We have a place in Bangkok if you want to come out anytime and start your project ? Two bedroom / swimming pool / gym / tennis courts / right in heart of city , cheers Dave x
From: Dave
To: Scot Young
2014-12-08
For your exclusive use !
From: Dave
To: Scot Young
2014-12-08
When do you want to chat ? Cheers Dave x
From: Dave
To: Scot Young
2014-12-08
What time do you want a chat UK time ?
From: Dave
To: Scot Young
2014-12-08
Hi mate, tried you lots, call me when you can ok?
▲▼
CallsMessages
Chris Applegate and Tim Lane / BuzzFeed News
Tap the phone buttons to scroll through the texts
Berezovsky and many of his dead associates were so deeply connected to organised crime in Russia that intelligence sources said it was difficult to tell whether orders to kill them may have come from the government, the mafia, or both. Mark Galeotti, an expert in the international activities of the Russian mafia, said the country’s security services frequently cooperate with organised crime groups. “How it works is an order comes down from the top saying this person needs to die,” he said, and the security services have to work out “What is the most efficient way of doing this?” That might be to send state agents to conduct a sophisticated and undetectable killing, he said, or it may be simpler to enlist some “hoodlums” to carry out a crude hit. At the same time, Galeotti said, “technically challenging organised crime killings” are often carried out by “state agents basically moonlighting”.

Walton, the former Scotland Yard counter-terror chief, said the failure by the force’s homicide team to carry out even the most cursory investigation into Young’s death was “really alarming”, and he was “astonished that there weren’t forensics done”. Given Young's fears for his safety and his connections to Berezovsky and other prominent Russians who had died suspiciously, Walton said, “that should have been treated as a suspicious death from the off”.

After Scotland Yard shut down its investigation, four people remained determined to get to the truth. Young’s two daughters, Sasha, then 20, and Scarlet, then 22, found out they had lost their father only when the news broke in the papers two days later, because police had failed to inform them. They felt at once, Sasha said, that he had been murdered. Young had called them both sounding calm and cheerful minutes before his body was found impaled on the railings. They knew about his association with “dangerous people” such as Berezovsky, and he had told them repeatedly that his life was at risk. “We had zero belief that he did this to himself,” said Sasha.

They phoned Young’s close friend Jonathan Brown, a smoked-salmon mogul based in Miami, and told him through sobs that their father was dead. Brown had invested millions in Project Moscow at Young’s request and said his first thought on hearing the news was “that he’d been murdered, like everyone else”. If his friend had been “fucking whacked”, he had two questions: Who was responsible, and, “Am I next?” He got on the first plane to London and rushed to see Sasha and Scarlet. Then and there, the three of them made a pact: If the police weren’t going to investigate this, then they would.

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Young on holiday with his then wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Scarlet.
Supplied/BuzzFeed News

Meanwhile, Young’s ex-wife Michelle was equally determined to crack the case. The couple had spent the past eight years embroiled in a high-profile divorce battle over a £400 million fortune she accused Young of stashing offshore when Project Moscow imploded. Now she was certain that he had been murdered – and that his killer had made off with the money. “I do actually find it shocking that the police failed to investigate,” she said. She enlisted armies of private investigators and forensic accountants to help her get to the bottom of it.

BuzzFeed News began its own investigation into Young’s death – and its links to eight other cold cases – shortly after police ruled out foul play. This is the story of a group of men who lived lives of extraordinary wealth, secrecy, and danger – and who died in the shadow of a growing threat from Russia that the British authorities have chosen to ignore.

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Scot Young was easing his Porsche up the gravel drive of his magnificent 200-acre mansion in Surrey when his then-wife Michelle came running through the topiary. “There’s a strange man inside and I can’t get him out!” she said. “Shall we call the police?”

Young marched through the grand, columned entrance to find a small, suited, black-eyed stranger settled comfortably in an armchair. “Welcome to my home!” the intruder boomed, in a thick Russian accent, throwing his arms wide. “How much do you want for it?”

This, Young liked to tell his friends, was the first time he ever laid eyes on Boris Berezovsky. The story’s punchline was that he hadn’t known the man was one of Russia’s richest tycoons, so he told Berezovsky to “fuck off”. But within a matter of weeks, Young had accepted the billionaire’s offer of £20.5 million and handed over the keys.

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The Wentworth Park Estate mansion sold by Young to Berezovsky in 2001
Supplied/BuzzFeed News

The year was 2001, and Berezovsky had recently fled to Britain after a bitter falling-out with Russia’s new president, Vladimir Putin. He settled in this lush corner of Surrey – with its follies, lakes, and roaming deer – and was joined by his best friend and business partner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, who bought a grand manor house nearby. Young moved with his wife and two young daughters to another palatial home across the Wentworth golf course.

“Boris and Badri”, as they were universally known, were an inseparable duo. Berezovsky was a short man with massive presence: voluble, impulsive, and given to impassioned flights of speech about Mother Russia. Patarkatsishvili was the opposite: serene and avuncular, with a fondness for fur hats and a white moustache that twirled at the corners. For Young – who grew up in a tenement in Dundee and cut his teeth hustling for deals in the port city’s smoky pubs and clubs – to enter the inner circle of the banished Russian billionaires was to be thrust into an exotic and unimaginably wealthy world. But the association was also fraught with danger. “Boris was public enemy number one,” one of Berezovsky’s closest Russian advisers told BuzzFeed News. “Anyone close to him was an enemy of the state.”

The two oligarchs had built up a vast business empire in Russia in the post-communist era, when President Boris Yeltsin’s cronies bought up former state assets at rock-bottom prices. The two men’s financial affairs were inextricable: They jointly owned a group of Russian newspapers and TV channels, claimed a shared interest in the oil giant Sibneft, and controlled Aeroflot, the former state airline.

Berezovsky – who had been a high-ranking member of Yeltsin’s government – viewed himself as the kingmaker who had plucked Putin out of obscurity. But when his protégé expanded his power and quashed opposition, Berezovsky deployed his newspapers and TV channels to launch blistering attacks. Enraged, Putin warned publicly that oligarchs who stepped out of line would receive “a crushing blow on the head”. Days later, while sunning himself on the Cap d’Antibes, Berezovsky received a summons for interrogation by Russian prosecutors over allegations of fraud and embezzlement. He never returned to Moscow.

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Boris (centre) and Badri (left)
Uppa / © UPPA/Photoshot

Young was a great raconteur, and he loved to spin the yarn about how Berezovsky had turned up at his mansion out of nowhere that summer day. But a private intelligence report tracking his activities in Russia suggests he had actually met Berezovsky’s people two years earlier, in Moscow in 1999. Prepared for Michelle by the business intelligence and accountancy firm PKF, the report says Young had been visiting the Russian capital regularly on Berezovsky’s behalf since the oligarch first fled in 2000.

The economic security unit of the FSB developed what the intelligence report calls a “long-term interest” in the British businessman and began formal surveillance of him in February 2002. His calls on two Russian SIM cards were said to have been intercepted, and “his movements around Moscow were monitored”. The FSB surveillance team built up a picture of Young as a “high-class fixer” who was “providing highly confidential assistance to oligarchs” and was therefore being “pampered and looked after by his hosts”, the report says. A “typical night out” would include drinks and dinner at the posh Café Pushkin, Vogue Café, or Restaurant Vanille before a visit to Private Club Bordo, a brothel frequented by the city’s political and business elite.

Boris and Badri had amassed their riches in the smash-and-grab era after the fall of Soviet communism, and they faced two big problems as they tried to extract their wealth from Russia: currency controls that limited how many rubles could leave the country and stringent anti-money-laundering regulations that required proof that funds entering Britain was from unquestionable sources.

Young was just the man to help. He had an irrepressible habit of forming dangerous associations and had become a multimillionaire almost overnight in the ’90s after developing a close friendship with the notorious London gang lord Patrick Adams – one of the brothers who control the Adams family organised-crime syndicate. Police sources said that the Adams family are suspected of links to the Russian mafia and that Young is believed to have laundered money for the crime group. Indeed, it was after meeting Adams that Young began closing multimillion-pound deals with suitcases full of cash, according to multiple sources, documents, and photographs recovered from Young’s phone. He had mastered the art of covering up a questionable money trail.

Jonathan Brown

So Young became one of Berezovsky’s most trusted British fixers, helping to launder his money into the UK, using it to buy fabulous cars and luxurious homes on his behalf, and concealing the oligarch’s ownership behind opaque offshore vehicles. “Scot did a lot of global shopping for Boris,” said Brown, the smoked-salmon mogul, who was close to both men. “Boris can’t just walk in the UK and set up bank accounts, it’s not that easy,” he explained, so the Russian would wire “shitloads of money” from his offshore accounts in Cyprus “and Scot would go and buy him his cars and his shit”.

But already there were sobering signs that Young’s new Russian connections placed him in peril. When Berezovsky came to visit him at home, Young asked Michelle to remove their two small daughters from the house for their own safety. Then, she said, she was approached by a man who said he worked for MI6 and who warned her: “These people are very, very dangerous and by getting involved with them you’re risking your life.”

Berezovsky had been granted political asylum in 2003 by the government of Tony Blair because of continual death threats from the Russian security services, and counter-terror officers assigned to monitor his safety were informed that he topped a “hit list” of Kremlin opponents living in Britain. In one early plot, Scotland Yard received intelligence that Russian assassins planned to stab Berezovsky with a poison-tipped fountain pen as he showed up at court to fight attempts to extradite him to Moscow. Two senior Scotland Yard counter-terror officers told BuzzFeed News they regularly had to alert the oligarch to credible plots to kill him on British soil. One officer said he knew of around 15 crisis meetings relating to the oligarch’s safety, three of which concerned “serious assassination plots”. Berezovsky’s notorious partiality to young women made him a sitting duck for honeytraps, he said, while the oligarch's heavy reliance on Viagra exposed a vulnerability to poisoning. A second officer said Berezovsky had to be told to leave the country on at least five occasions because “there were very good reasons to think that he may be assassinated” and “our information was that the risk to him was in the UK”.

Young attended a "boys' dinner" with Bill Clinton.
Supplied/BuzzFeed News

Meanwhile, Young’s own wealth had ballooned suddenly. An asset schedule prepared in 2002 by Coutts – the Queen’s bank – shows that the one-time pub promoter was now worth £279 million. He had suddenly become such a huge player in the British property market that Lord Andrew Hay of the elite real estate broker Knight Frank wrote letters of recommendation describing him as “the most important single private client the firm has within the UK”. Emails reveal he and Berezovsky were invited to a “boys’ dinner” in London with Bill Clinton by the Finnish billionaire and major Tory donor Poju Zabludowicz. He had become friends with the retail billionaire Sir Philip Green, the Ivy group owner Richard Caring, and the reality TV mogul Simon Cowell. Friends say it was his party trick to fly Paris Hilton in for dinner, and he hung out with the pop superstar Pharrell Williams.

Young’s family was now spending more and more time in Miami, where they bought a prestige property on the waterfront of Coconut Grove. It was at this point that he first crossed paths with the salmon magnate Jonathan Brown.

Meeting at a glitzy South Beach steakhouse, the two former working-class lads hit it off immediately – bonding over the discovery that they both loved the scene from True Romance when Dennis Hopper is about to get “whacked” by the mob and uses his last words to insult his assassins. They both relished that moment, Brown said, because “it’s like, even in death, we’re gonna fuck ’em”.

Young soon invited Brown to fly to London on his private jet and had two Rolls-Royce Phantoms waiting on the tarmac. He put Brown up at the five-star Halkin Hotel, and they partied till dawn at Boujis, the favourite nightspot of Princes William and Harry, where, Brown said, Young would blow £50,000 a night on cocaine and magnums of Dom Pérignon that he’d shake up and spray all over the crowd.

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Young in Miami
Rex Features

The two grew close enough for Young to bring him into Berezovsky’s inner sanctum – and that, said Brown, was the moment he unknowingly became a “participant of chaos” that would leave him terrified for his life.

Young took Brown to a discreet club in Berkeley Square where Berezovsky was waiting with two “lethal-looking” bodyguards who freaked Brown out by following him every time he went to the bathroom. But the party got on so famously that Young leased himself, Brown, and Berezovsky three grand townhouses neighbouring each other on Eaton Square in Belgravia – the capital’s most exclusive address – complete with gleaming white columns and balconies overlooking private gardens. Berezovsky, Brown said, filled his house with teenage prostitutes he flew in from Latvia, and asked the others to watch over them when he was in Surrey.

The oligarch’s almost childlike reliance on Young fascinated Brown. One day in Miami, he recalled, he answered Young’s phone for him. “My love,” Berezovsky said, without waiting to hear whom he was speaking to. “Get on a plane, I need you in London. I have lost the Phantom of Love.” Mystified, Brown turned to Young to ask: “What the fuck is the Phantom of Love?”

“What the fuck is the Phantom of Love?”

The missing item was a £500,000 vintage Rolls-Royce that Young had bought for Berezovsky via an offshore front company in Gibraltar. The vehicle featured an “audacious rococo interior that is nothing less than magnificently palatial”, according to an auction house listing, with fine upholstery and a ceiling painted with naked cherubs that resembled “the throne room at Versailles”. Berezovsky had given the Phantom to an 18-year-old girlfriend as a present, Brown said, and she had called to say it had “vanished”. “I know someone who’ll know someone who’ll know where it is,” Young said. And, to Brown’s astonishment, he did.

The Phantom of Love
Bonhams

But hovering over the daily drama was a dark threat that only intensified. Even though Berezovsky “knew he was going to get killed”, Brown said, he refused to stop poking the bear, savaging Putin in articles, TV appearances, and speeches. “I said to him, ‘Boris, don’t wind the government up!’’’

Any time Berezovsky launched a new broadside on the Kremlin, a Scotland Yard counter-terror officer who monitored his safety said, a flurry of activity would be picked up by “billions of pounds of GCHQ interception apparatus staring at Russian telecommunications”, suggesting that the threat level had risen. “It was almost as if you got a chill wind from the East,” he said.

By then, Berezovsky was stoking unrest against the Kremlin right in Russia’s back yard. Documents indicate he pumped about $30 million into Ukraine to help fund the Orange Revolution, the uprising that in 2005 toppled the country’s pro-Kremlin government and undermined Putin’s influence. The counter-terror officer said Berezovsky was also meddling in the politics of Georgia and Belarus. And Young was right behind him, the documents show, pushing a massive infrastructure project in Kiev and booking a private jet for meetings in Tbilisi.

For Brown, it was as if Young was so blinded by Berezovsky’s billions that he just couldn’t see the danger. “Me and Scot can do the best we can, we make 10 million, 20 million, 30 million. We don’t make billions, right? It doesn’t work that way,” he said. “The billions come when Boris turns up. But it comes with a cancer. And the cancer kills you.”

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It was when driving Brown to the airport one morning that Young first mentioned Project Moscow. He said he’d bought up “the best land” in the Russian capital, Brown recalled, and was planning to build a “spectacular” office complex. The development promised to yield “profits running into hundreds of millions”, and Young was offering his friend the first slice of the pie.

Young’s offer required Brown to keep two big secrets. First, Berezovsky was putting $6 million into the deal. A lawyer’s note confirmed that “SY is fronting for all this” because “Boris can never been seen to invest in Russia openly for political reasons”. And second, Young boasted, he had bought the support of the mayor of Moscow. “Here’s the land, we’ve got the best location in Moscow, we’ve got the mayor paid off, it’s going to be a fantastic deal,” Brown recalled being told.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov was then one of Russia’s leading politicians, a key ally of the Kremlin, and married to one of the country’s richest women with a personal fortune of more than $1 billion. According to a 2010 US diplomatic cable, Luzhkov was also a corrupt power broker “involved with bribes and deals regarding lucrative construction contracts throughout Moscow”.

US analysts had identified “a three-tiered structure in Moscow’s criminal world” with Luzhkov at the top, the FSB at the second level, and ordinary criminals at the bottom. They noted that anyone seeking to do business in Moscow had to pay for what the locals call "krysha" ­– protection, or, literally, “roof” – from one of these groups. “If people attempt to forgo protection, they will instantly be shut down,” the cable noted. Luzhkov strongly denied any involvement in corruption. In a letter to BuzzFeed News, his lawyers said he had never met Young, had no involvement in Project Moscow, and had not accepted any payment in exchange for protection. Nor, they said, would he have sanctioned any scheme involving Berezovsky.

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Ruslan Fomichev and his wife Katya
Richard Young / Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock

Project Moscow was a joint venture between Young and Ruslan Fomichev, a suave, bullet-headed Russian financier with glacial blue eyes who had formerly worked for Boris and Badri in Moscow and London. Fomichev’s father was a retired KGB general, and Young traded on that lineage, telling investors that the property development would benefit from his partner’s connections to Russia’s military and security establishment. Fomichev said he had never met or had any dealings with Luzhkov and denied maintaining any links to the Russian security services. “I never had any krysha, never made any deals with anybody, never bribed anyone,” he told BuzzFeed News, insisting that “Project Moscow was the cleanest deal you can imagine being done in Russia, ever”. He denied Berezovsky’s involvement in the scheme – then said he was “shocked” when BuzzFeed News showed him documents evidencing the oligarch’s secret investment. “The first time I am hearing about this is now,” he said. “That was not my intention to involve Berezovsky in Project Moscow.”

Any krysha Young thought he had came as cold comfort to his London lawyers, who warned in a due diligence document that “Russia is still a dangerous place where people are kidnapped for ransom, are murdered or simply disappear.”

Young’s job was to raise $26.5 million by January 2006, and he set up a network of offshore vehicles to channel investments into the project. Brown threw in $5 million. He was followed by three more members from Young’s inner circle: the Finnish magnate Zabludowicz, a Monaco-based film mogul called Stephen Kay, and a secondary lender in London called Harvey Lawrence. Lawrence and Zabludowicz did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but Kay said he and the other investors had no knowledge of any illicit payments to the mayor of Moscow and were unaware of Berezovsky’s secret stake in the scheme. “Do you seriously think anyone would put money into the deal if they thought Berezovsky was involved?" the film producer told BuzzFeed News. "The man was banned from Russia. He was a fugitive."

“Do you seriously think anyone would put money into the deal if they thought Berezovsky was involved? The man was banned from Russia”

Young came up with a cunning ruse to channel Berezovsky’s $6 million into the scheme, documents reveal. The deal, which was done in the name of Berezovsky’s daughter Ekaterina, involved Berezovsky “selling” a luxury townhouse in London’s upmarket Mayfair to Young, but without any actual money changing hands. Instead, Young committed to pay for the house from the profits of Project Moscow. To raise Berezovsky’s capital for the scheme, Young took out a mortgage on the property, ensuring that the original source of the funds was obscured. Ekaterina Berezovsky declined to comment when contacted by BuzzFeed News, but sources close to her said she had no idea her name had been used to funnel money into the project, and would not have expected her father to invest in Russia through any route “because it would have put him and any fellow investors in danger”.

By mid-2005, Young just needed to stump up another $5 million in loans to complete his side of the bargain. Documents show he spent the rest of that year scouting for other glittering deals in Moscow and St Petersburg, and a £15 million luxury apartment in London’s Knightsbridge.
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But as the year turned, disaster struck. Just before Christmas 2005, Young missed a deadline for the remaining funds. The usually cool and collected Fomichev sent him a furious email. “Today on thursday 22 DECEMBER!! we received no moneys from you,” he wrote. “We have been asking for 1.5 mil USD loan since September! I do not feel that i have to be responsible towards you when you are not doing the same to me.”

Berezovsky chose this delicate time to go on Russian radio and call for an armed revolution against Putin. The Russian prosecutor general charged him in absentia for plotting the violent overthrow of the government. There could hardly have been a worse time to try to secrete Berezovsky’s money into a conspicuous property development in the Russian capital.

When Young missed another payment deadline at the start of February, Fomichev was at a loss for words. “What the ........!!!!!!” he wrote. Young responded: “I am juggling. You will have it before 12 tomorrow”. Young’s final payment of $5 million was vital for keeping the city government onside. “I am leaving tom to moscow and need to meet with you to discuss our position with the moscow mayor,” Fomichev emailed Young days later. The financier told BuzzFeed News that he had never discussed the project with the mayor and did not recall this email, but said it had likely been sent “to pressure Scot” into paying the money.

But the funds never materialised, and in March, Fomichev finally pulled the plug on the scheme. Russian prosecutors – who had just charged Berezovsky with treason – announced the Project Moscow investors were under investigation for “economic crimes”. Though no charges would ever be brought, the Moscow police started digging into the finances behind the development – and suddenly Berezovsky’s cover was in danger of being blown.

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The first Brown heard of the trouble was when news reached him that Young had lost all his money, attempted suicide, and been held in the Priory mental health hospital. Brown didn’t believe a word of it. “He threw this fucking Priory story, and I’m like, ‘Scot, it’s me, you’re not in the fucking Priory,’” he said. “I mean, ‘Let’s go to Boujis and do some blow,’ you know what I mean?” He phoned Young and told him to get on the first plane to Miami. When Young arrived, Brown said, it was immediately obvious that the suicide attempt had been a sham concocted by Young to buy himself time with his angry creditors – but it was also clear that trouble really was brewing in London and Moscow. Young insisted that he had lost everything and was now tens of millions of pounds in debt, but he wouldn’t say how. It was as if, Brown said, “the sky suddenly fell in for Scot”.

Young’s psychiatric records show that he had not in fact been committed, though he had visited the Priory voluntarily. He had taken too many tranquillisers and had superficially cut and bandaged his wrists – something he told his doctors he did because he “wanted people to think he was suicidal”. After heading to Miami, he fired out a series of incoherent emails to business associates to whom he now owed millions, telling them he was “heavily sedated”, rambling about suicide, and promising to resolve the crisis when he recovered.

Alarmed by the calamity that had suddenly befallen Project Moscow, Brown turned to Stephen Jones, his offshore finance lawyer, who devised a recovery plan under which a Russian company called Guta Group bought out the investors Young had recruited. By the end of 2006, they had got most of their money back.

But everyone remained mystified about what had caused Young’s finances to implode so suddenly. Some friends speculated that his business empire had been a house of cards all along, built by borrowing on the back of assets he had never really owned. Others heard rumours that he had fallen foul of the Russian mafia.

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Michelle Young on the steps of the High Court, where she commenced the longest-running divorce battle in British legal history.
Mulholland / Mulholland/REX/Shutterstock

His wife Michelle had a different theory: She claimed that he had hidden all his wealth offshore. After all, it was only a few months after the money vanished that Young announced he was leaving her. She put together a team of lawyers, private detectives, and forensic accountants to follow the money. So began the longest-running High Court divorce battle in British legal history – conducted in a continual blaze of media attention. And the secrets of Project Moscow were at the heart of the case.

Michelle quickly obtained a worldwide freezing order on all Young’s assets, including the Buckingham Suite property that had been used to funnel Berezovsky’s funds into the scheme. Young would go to every length imaginable to keep the secrets of his business dealings. He flouted repeated court orders to disclose evidence explaining the disappearance of his fortune, and he destroyed hundreds of emails he had exchanged with Berezovsky, according to a computer forensics expert who examined his hard drive. He even spent three months in prison for contempt of court rather reveal the truth. Meanwhile, his mansions in London, Oxford, and Miami were repossessed or sold to pay his debts, and his collections of classic cars, watches, and antique furniture were seized by his creditors. His daughters, Sasha and Scarlet, would have to be pulled out of private school after Young was officially made bankrupt by HMRC in 2010. And yet, all the while, Young himself maintained a lifestyle beyond the wildest dreams of the average citizen – dining in fine restaurants, living in penthouse apartments, dressing in designer clothes, and paying in rolls of £50 notes.

Scot Young's property in Miami's Coconut Grove had to be sold to pay creditors after his fortune vanished.

Brown, who remained part of the oligarchs’ inner sanctum, was left wondering whether Young’s sudden financial collapse was linked to economic difficulties Berezovsky was facing. In 2006, the same year Project Moscow imploded, Patarkatsishvili had announced that he wanted a financial “divorce” from his long-time partner, whose increasingly savage attacks on the Kremlin were getting in the way of business. Then Berezovsky fell out bitterly with Fomichev over disputed interest payments relating to a $50 million loan he had made to the financier years before. Berezovsky launched a series of lawsuits against former associates, including Fomichev, that would ultimately ruin him financially. “I think Scot’s demise could really have been the fact that Boris was running out of money,” Brown said. “Scot was living the big life when Boris was living the big life.”

How Young’s hundreds of millions of pounds had disappeared so suddenly, Brown said he will never fully understand. But there are two things of which he is absolutely certain: “Money went missing, and then people started fucking dying.”

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One of the first to die was Stephen Curtis. The strapping, round-cheeked British solicitor had been enlisted before the inception of Project Moscow to route billions of pounds from Russia to Britain for Boris and Badri – without getting it snarled up in UK anti-money-laundering checks. He had succeeded, siphoning the money into a trust called the New World Value Fund, and earning himself commissions of $18 million with which he bought a huge gothic castle on an island off Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. Then, shortly after a scheme to move $1.3 billion was completed in 2003, another British lawyer named Stephen Moss, who had worked alongside Curtis on the transaction, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 46. And, at almost exactly the same time, Curtis himself started receiving death threats. “Curtis, where are you? We are here. We are behind you. We follow you,” said a man with a thick Russian accent in one of the messages.

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Stephen Curtis
Chris Ison / PA Archive/PA Images

The lawyer hired a team of bodyguards, and at the end of February he told his uncle: “If anything happens to me in the next few weeks, it will not be an accident.” The following week, on 3 March 2004, his private helicopter nose-dived into a field on the approach to Bournemouth airport, killing him and the pilot in a ball of flames. His inquest, a judicial inquiry to determine the cause of death, ruled the crash was an accident – the helicopter went down in poor weather – though the coroner acknowledged that the case had “all the ingredients for an espionage thriller”.

Though the deaths of Curtis and Moss were both treated publicly as non-suspicious, and Moss’s wife said she believed he had died of natural causes, BuzzFeed News can now reveal that MI6 requested information from US intelligence relating to suspicions that both lawyers had been assassinated. Such requests are sent through intelligence-cleared officials at the US embassy in London in the form of telex cables, and the response comes via the same route. Four sources confirmed that US spy agencies have files on both men, stored in classified databases used by the country’s intelligence agencies, containing information linking their deaths to Russia. In examining suspected state assassinations, “we look for authorization at the highest level of government," a high-ranking US intelligence source told BuzzFeed News. “The evidentiary standard is very high and often never meets that level,” he said, but the intelligence suggesting “Russian involvement” in these deaths was considered “strong” – particularly in relation to Curtis.

In the inner circle of the oligarchs, Curtis’s death was a chilling moment. Emails seen by BuzzFeed News reveal that Young hastily cancelled an order for an A109E Power helicopter, the exact model in which Curtis had perished. But Young’s financial moves were decidedly unsentimental. Handwritten notes recovered from Young’s possessions show that he later helped the oligarchs plot to cut Curtis’s family out of his share of a fund established with the proceeds of the payment he had funnelled onshore for them. Curtis's widow did not respond to requests for comment.

Curtis’s death hadn’t been enough to scare Young off working with Berezovsky. But after Project Moscow collapsed and his millions vanished, Young was terrified – repeatedly telling friends, the police, doctors, and his teenage daughters that his life was under threat. Then, just a few months after the deal broke down, in November 2006, the Kremlin struck right at the heart of Berezovsky’s circle.

The Russian secret service defector Alexander Litvinenko, who had fled to Britain under Boris and Badri’s protection, had been poisoned in central London. A public inquiry found that his killers were two FSB assassins, who slipped radioactive polonium 210 into his tea at the Millennium Hotel. The rare isotope would have killed Litvinenko without leaving a trace were it not for a team of British scientists who identified its unusual alpha rays and, in so doing, uncovered the glaring radioactive trail the two assassins had left all over London. Britain could not ignore such a blatant act of provocation, and authorities charged the two assassins with murder in absentia. Though Russia refused to extradite them and they have denied any involvement in the killing, the public inquiry found last year that the two men had been sent by the FSB to murder Litvinenko and that the operation had “probably” been approved by Putin.

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Alexander Litvinenko on his deathbed

Britain’s reaction to the murder triggered an all-out diplomatic crisis with Russia, in which both sides expelled diplomats and intelligence-sharing ground to a halt for a decade. After that, said Hall, the CIA’s former head of Russia operations, British authorities appeared to start looking the other way when the Russians and their moneymen died on British soil, making it possible for Putin’s assassins “to kill regularly, without having to worry about it too much”.

Young was shaken by Litvinenko’s death, Brown said. What was all the more chilling was that it wasn’t just Litvinenko who was a close member of the oligarchs’ inner sanctum – one of his assassins was too. Andrey Lugovoy was a former head of security in Moscow for one of Boris and Badri’s companies, and he had infiltrated their network in Britain. He succeeded, developing a business partnership with Litvinenko as freelance private investigators. This would not be Young’s last brush with Lugovoy.

A few weeks after Litvinenko died, another prominent Russian expat in Berezovsky’s circle dropped dead. Yuri Golubev was a cofounder of the oil giant Yukos, whose owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, had been arrested on politically motivated charges and sent to a Siberian prison after making an enemy of Putin. Khodorkovsky used the same British lawyer as Boris and Badri, Stephen Curtis, who had worked with Golubev to fend off the Kremlin’s attempts to demolish Yukos and strip its assets before dying in a helicopter crash. Then, on 7 January 2007, Golubev was found dead in an armchair at his London flat, shortly after flying in from Moscow. Scotland Yard quickly announced that the death was not suspicious. Bizarrely, however, Russia’s prosecutor general Yuri Chaika announced that there were “all grounds to suppose” Golubev had been killed. US intelligence sources said such pronouncements were often designed as a warning to other Russian exiles that crossing the Kremlin could cost them their lives.

That summer, Scotland Yard received intelligence that Berezovsky was the target of an imminent Russian assassination plot. The would-be killer was a Chechen with FSB links by the name of Movladi Atlangeriev, who landed at Heathrow Airport in June, bought a firearm, and asked to meet Berezovsky. “All the intelligence given to me suggested that this man was here to assassinate Boris,” his Special Branch protection officer told BuzzFeed News. Berezovsky was airlifted to Israel, and a surveillance team arrested Atlangeriev, who had made his way to the oligarch’s office lobby with a gun. But rather than putting him on trial, the British government merely revoked his visa and bundled him on a plane back to Russia, refusing to comment publicly on the operation. Berezovsky, though, was typically irrepressible, telling reporters that he had survived an assassination attempt for which he held Putin personally responsible.

That December, Patarkatsishvili, the other half of the “Boris and Badri” partnership, notified Scotland Yard of an assassination plot against him related to his political activities in his native Georgia. “I have 120 bodyguards,” he told the Daily Telegraph, “but I know that's not enough. I don’t feel safe anywhere.”

Two months later he was dead.

The web of death
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FSB
The Kremlin
Russian mafia
Stephen Moss
Stephen Curtis
Alexander Litvinenko
Yuri Golubev
Badri Patarkatsishvili
Paul Castle
Alexander Perepilichnyy
Robbie Curtis
Boris Berezovsky
Johnny Elichaoff
Scot Young
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
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Patarkatsishvili had returned from meetings in London on 12 February 2008, then eaten dinner with his family before complaining that he felt unwell and retiring to lie down. Relatives found him dead in the master bedroom. Surrey police initially said they were treating the death as suspicious but quickly reversed that position, announcing that an autopsy had shown “no indication” that the death of the rotund 52-year-old was attributable to anything other than natural causes.

Lord Tim Bell, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, was Patarkatsishvili’s long-time friend and had seen him that last afternoon. The oligarch had seemed “absolutely fine” when they parted ways, Bell said, “and by the time I got home he had died”. He said he heard of his friend’s death from Berezovsky, who phoned him and announced sorrowfully: “They’ve done Badri.” Bell agreed with Berezovsky that their friend had been murdered. “They have all sorts of stuff that can kill you without leaving a trace,” he said. “The British government backs off when there’s a suspicious death linked to the Russians because they don’t want to upset the Russians and they don’t want to have to find them guilty of something that might cause an international incident.”

Patarkatsishvili, like Golubev, was said to have died naturally of a heart attack – a conclusion Surrey police said they had reached after “very extensive toxicological testing”, which was supported by the coroner's verdict. But – as with Moss and Curtis – British spies secretly asked for information from their US counterparts linking the two deaths to Russia, said four American officials, who added that both men are named in US intelligence files containing information about suspected assassinations in Britain. The suspicions in relation to Patarkatsishvili’s death were particularly strong, two high-ranking US intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News.

A former senior MI6 officer said that, after Litvinenko’s death, the intelligence services knew Russia had a sophisticated array of chemical biological agents at its disposal that were designed to kill undetectably – often by triggering cardiac arrest. “In cases where the postmortem conclusions are not altogether clear or there’s nothing obviously visible, I wouldn’t take a lot of comfort in that,” the former spy said. “They have done quite a lot of work with agents that are hard to identify and discover.”

After Patarkatsishvili’s death, Brown said he became increasingly worried for Berezovsky. “What a lonely life,” he said. “You can’t really go anywhere, people have been trying to kill you. Your friends have died of radiation positioning. You haven’t got long left, really. I mean, he knew it was coming.”


“He disclosed to officers that he believed he was going to be assassinated by gangsters and the Russian mafia”

Meanwhile, Brown said, Young had become a haunted figure – drinking heavily, doing far too much cocaine, and getting himself mixed up with “dodgy people”. In August 2009, he called the police at 3am and “disclosed to officers that he believed he was going to be assassinated by gangsters and the Russian Mafia”, a record of the police visit states. He hadn’t slept in three days and “had not eaten or had anything to drink all day except for a scotch egg” because “he believed he was going to be poisoned”. Young asked for “armed protection” and “requested that he had MI5 and MI6 informed”, the record shows. Instead, officers referred him for psychiatric tests, noting that “there was no information to corroborate his allegations of his life being in danger”.

After an altercation later that evening, police arrested Young. At the police station, doctors concluded he was “paranoid, with a manic flavour” and had a “complex delusional belief system”. They committed him under the Mental Health Act and moved him to St Charles Hospital.

There, doctors noted, Young appeared “sweaty, suspicious and restless” – attempting at times to kiss other patients and expose himself. The one-time multimillionaire accused nurses of being “in the league of the KGB” and tried to kick down the ward doors to escape.

Young had been due to attend a divorce hearing with Michelle on 7 September, when he would face jail if he failed to disclose documentary evidence of his losses. Doctors at St Charles Hospital wrote to the judge that he was mentally unfit to comply with the court order. Michelle was furious, asking that Young be jailed for his recalcitrance. But the judge delayed the hearing.

The next day, doctors noted a “significant improvement”: Young was exhibiting “no psychotic features”, though he still maintained – calmly, now – that his fears had been justified. His daughter Sasha recalled that while her father was in the hospital, he called her and warned that “he was being followed by someone”, that “something was going to happen”, and “that we had to be in a safe place”. This was the first of three times Young’s fears for his own safety led to his committal. Sasha said he told her these mental health admissions were his way of fleeing to safety when he found himself in imminent danger – something his medical notes show he also said to doctors.

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Young (left) was caught on film meeting the crime boss Patrick Adams in London.

With no help from the police, two sources close to Young said, he sought the protection of the Adams family – Britain’s most notorious organised crime gang. By now he had been friends with Patrick Adams for 20 years. Surveillance footage gathered by private detectives working for Michelle, seen by BuzzFeed News, captured Young meeting the crime boss. The pair met for a long drink at a pub called the Barley Mow in Mayfair, and the private eyes noted that he had “thanked” his grey-haired, leather-jacketed companion before they parted ways outside. Adams is now serving nine years in prison for shooting a suspected informant who only narrowly survived, and his lawyers did not respond to requests for comment. After turning to the crime boss for help, Young told people close to him that “nothing would happen” because he was being “looked after”.

But then two of his friends died in rapid succession, and his fears flared back up. Paul Castle and Robbie Curtis were an inseparable pair of roguish, high-rolling property dealers who had dined with Young and Berezovsky often at Cipriani, his favourite Italian restaurant in London. Castle played polo with Prince Charles and was known by friends for “spending more money than God” on champagne, while Curtis had made a fortune on luxury rentals in the early 2000s and liked to boast that he had once dated the model Caprice. Like Young, the two tycoons had experienced a dramatic financial collapse, and friends told BuzzFeed News both had run into trouble doing risky deals with gangsters linked to the Russian mafia.

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Paul Castle played polo with Prince Charles.
Daily Mail / Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock

Castle was the first to go. The 54-year-old had lost all his money in the financial crisis, his inquest would hear. One morning, in November 2010, he reportedly took tea at the Grosvenor Hotel, as was his habit, before turning up at his Mayfair offices in apparently good spirits. But then, friends said, enforcers for a “dangerous” Russian-linked crime gang burst in, threatened him, and forced him to hand over a valuable collection of luxury watches. Immediately afterwards, Castle walked out of his office and into Bond Street tube station, where he was captured on CCTV diving with his arms outstretched into the path of an oncoming train. After his death, several friends briefed the press anonymously that he had been driven over the edge by “very, very nasty people” connected to the Russian and Turkish mafia who had threatened to kill him slowly and painfully if he did not end his own life. The coroner deemed his death a suicide.

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Robbie Curtis

Curtis was devastated by Castle’s death – and scared out of his wits. Friends said that he, too, had got into trouble with the same Russian-linked organised crime gang that Castle was said to have crossed. Two years after his friend’s suicide, in December 2012, at Kingsbury station, Curtis also stepped out in front of a train. Sources close to Young, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, said it’s a “well-known fact” that Curtis was murdered. A couple of years before, they said, criminals had thrown him out of a window, and just before his death he, like Young, had sought protection from a London-based crime group. “I need to make sure nothing happens to me,” he is said to have told the gangsters, who replied: “Sorry, but it’s too late. A hit has already been taken out on you.”

Two years later, another member of the Cipriani dining club – the British entrepreneur and former Tears for Fears manager Johnny Elichaoff – would throw himself to his death. Elichaoff was seen rolling himself off the roof of a London shopping centre in 2014 after losing all his money in a catastrophic oil deal.

The police treated all three cases as straightforward suicides and did nothing to investigate evidence of mafia intimidation. But British intelligence agencies had suspicions that the deaths could be linked to Russia and, American officials said, secretly asked the US for information. Castle, Curtis, and Elichaoff are named in US intelligence files documenting suspected assassinations in Britain, and American intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News that such cases could be evidence of a “suicide cluster” engineered through manipulation and intimidation tactics. As one high-ranking US intelligence official put it: “Could Russia be driving these people to suicide?”

“Could Russia be driving these people to suicide?”

Four former senior British detectives told BuzzFeed News that there had been an explosion of Russian mafia activity in London since 2000, and that the country’s organised crime groups were known for their “extreme violence” and appetite for murder. One detective said the British police were woefully ill-equipped to tackle the rise of the Russian mafia and had been looking the other way for years. “The police have no real means to get to these people. You’ve got the language barrier; on top of that they’re very hard to infiltrate,” he said. “The Russians have put them in a corner.”

Young was by this point so rattled that he refused to discuss Curtis’s death on the phone, friends said, because he believed his calls were being monitored. And in 2012, at least, he was being watched. For several months at the start of the year, his wife Michelle, determined to find his assets, deployed a team of surveillance operatives to tail him on foot and in vans, tracking his every move.

Her spies caught him on film doing deals in an array of exclusive West End bars and restaurants, visiting London’s finest five-star hotels, and partying at Boujis with his new girlfriend, the model and reality TV star Noelle Reno. One February day, a private detective investigating Young told BuzzFeed News, the surveillance team followed him to a meeting at the five-star Dorchester Hotel, a favourite haunt. Young went to an upstairs room and came down later, shaking and looking deathly pale. He high-tailed it back to his flat, only to be photographed re-emerging with arms full of bags, suits, and shirts. He then decamped to the nearby Columbia Hotel – a tired two-star establishment, far out of keeping with his eye-wateringly expensive tastes. He checked in with cash, the private eye said, and used an alias.

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Scot Young (second from left) caught on film at Boujis nightclub with his girlfriend Noelle Reno (far left).

Later, Young would tell friends that he had been dangled out of a window at the Dorchester by “heavies” working for the Russian mafia.

His wife’s spies followed him to the second hotel, where they eavesdropped on his room. In one phone call taped by the surveillance team, Young discussed handing over “the paperwork” to an individual in Russia and told an unknown caller that Berezovsky was “keeping his head down".

Young’s daughter Sasha said he also called her on one occasion during this period, sounding “very erratic and very scared” and warning her to get herself, her sister, and their mother somewhere safe.

And that was when Michelle was approached, out of the blue, by a man with a message from Moscow. The Russian government wanted her to pay them a visit.

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The snow was lying thick on the ground when the Aeroflot jet touched down at Sheremetyevo International Airport on a bitter February morning in 2012. Michelle and her lawyer swept through arrivals and climbed into a car sent by the man who had arranged their visit: Howard Hill, a London-based private investigator who boasted of a direct line to the Russian government.

Hill had suggested a trade: Michelle would tell prosecutors about Young’s business dealings in Russia and his connection to Berezovsky, and the prosecutors would tell her what they knew about Young’s money. By now, Young had been forced to answer questions about Project Moscow in court, and files relating to the deal had been found on a hard drive seized on the orders of the judge. The ruse to funnel Berezovsky’s money into the development had been unearthed, and Young had characterised the clandestine payment as a “personal loan” to help him “keep the scheme alive”. Correspondence shows Michelle’s lawyer instructed an assistant to sort through the documents relating to the scheme because “we will need them copied for russia”.

Michelle flew to Moscow to meet Vadim Yalovitsky, Russia’s deputy prosecutor general. Yalovitsky was such a loyal and trusted servant of the Kremlin that he had been given a critical task in thwarting the Scotland Yard detectives who flew to Moscow to investigate Litvinenko’s death in 2007: He restricted access to one of the men charged with Litvinenko’s killing, Dmitry Kovtun, whom the Russian government was shielding from prosecution.

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Michelle Young travelled to Moscow to meet prosecutors looking for information about her ex-husband's links to Boris Berezovsky.
Ki Price / Getty Images

Details of Michelle’s encounters in Moscow are contained in a cache of emails and handwritten notes obtained by BuzzFeed News. At their 13 February meeting, Michelle said, Yalovitsky told her straight up that prosecutors “had information on Scot”. There was, however, a hitch: The investigator who had the files had been taken to hospital, so they wouldn’t be able to see them that day. But, Michelle recalled, the prosecutor said that shouldn’t prevent her from turning over the hard drives she had brought with her. She declined.

The next day, after a sumptuous dinner with a group of prosecutors and government officials, Hill emailed Michelle’s lawyer about a senior member of the FSB who had a strong interest in Young and said the security agency had “substantial files” on him. Still, Michelle got nothing and flew home.

Over the next few weeks, Hill asked periodically for information on behalf of both the prosecutor and a mysterious “second group” in Russia who asked for recent pictures of Young and passport details because, Hill explained, they “suspect that, some years ago, he may have entered and left Russia using false ID”. Michelle’s lawyer supplied Young’s date of birth and a selection of photographs, and discussions continued about making a second trip to Russia to meet the chief investigator. But then the door slammed shut. Hill reported that the prosecutor’s office told him they were no longer prepared to cooperate. Hill declined to comment for this story.

By now, Russian prosecutors were closing in on Berezovsky’s global business empire. Cooperating authorities in France and Switzerland had seized yachts and luxury villas, and tens of millions of dollars had been frozen in his network of foreign accounts. As the Kremlin's stranglehold on his finances tightened, Berezovsky launched a series of exorbitantly expensive lawsuits to try to claw back funds from former associates including Fomichev, Patarkatsishvili's widow, and, most ruinously, the Chelsea Football Club owner and oil tycoon Roman Abramovich.

Disputes had also broken out over the New World Value Fund – the trust originally used by Stephen Curtis to hold cash and assets extracted from Russia by Boris and Badri. Secret documents reveal that Young had stepped in to help broker a peace deal that involved carving up the fund among some of the warring parties. The deal was sketched out by Young in handwritten notes found in his flat, and other documents among his papers suggest the agreement was sealed in 2011. This appears to have been the last deal Young did with Berezovsky before both men died. And, the following year, it came under scrutiny from a dangerous adversary in Russia.

Lugovoy had returned from the mission to poison Litvinenko in London to a position in the Russian parliament, which remains tightly under Kremlin control and provided him with immunity from criminal prosecution. The sandy-haired, blue-eyed assassin took to the floor of the Duma in December 2012 to deliver a thundering speech calling for a crackdown on all those found to be providing financial assistance to Berezovsky – his former employer – and in particular those involved in the carve-up of the New World Value Fund.

By now, Berezovsky had lost his lawsuit against Abramovich and was facing financial ruin – meaning his funding of anti-Kremlin political movements had all but run dry. Lugovoy crowed over the oligarch’s demise. “He takes antidepressants, flies to Israel from London economy rather than in his private jet,” he said. But Lugovoy said he had learned that Berezovsky was due to receive a total of $250 million from the sale of the assets in the New World Value Fund – and that the “the infamous tycoon and villain” was plotting to spend a tranche of it financing new anti-Kremlin activities. Lugovoy accused those involved in the carve-up of the New World Value Fund of “sheer cynicism, villainy, shamelessness of the highest degree”. And he said he had handed Russia's top prosecutors and the FSB information about the concealment of properties linked to Berezovsky in Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia.

“Those who cooperated with Mr Berezovsky are actively prosecuted in different jurisdictions; some of them died, and not all by a natural death”

Anyone involved with Berezovsky at this moment had reason to be afraid. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Fomichev said he supported the Russian government and denied being scared of reprisals over his connections with Berezovsky – with whom he said his working relationship had ended in 2002. But during the lawsuit over the frozen loan, his lawyers argued that testifying could expose him to danger: “Those who cooperated with Mr Berezovsky and even his former and remaining friends are actively prosecuted in different jurisdictions, seek asylum outside Russia; some of them died, and not all by a natural death.” Fomichev told BuzzFeed News that legal move had just been “tactical”.

Months later, another private eye who had previously contacted Michelle, claiming a connection to the FSB, got back in touch. The message she said he delivered was chilling: “Boris Berezovsky was being dealt with, and would end up in a body bag.”

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The bathroom door was locked when Berezovsky’s long-time bodyguard, Avi Navama, returned from running errands in the early afternoon of 23 March 2013. There was no reply when he knocked; stranger still, missed calls were backing up on the oligarch’s mobile, which he rarely left unattended. Navama, an ex-Mossad agent who had guarded Berezovsky for six years, kicked down the door. Inside, Berezovsky was sprawled on his back on the bathroom floor with a length of his favourite black cashmere scarf tied tight around his neck. Overhead, a second, frayed length of the scarf dangled from the metal shower rail. Berezovsky was dead.

By the time he met his end, Berezovsky was a broken man. His lawsuit against Abramovich had failed catastrophically, destroying him financially and demolishing his pride. He had been forced to give up his beloved Wentworth Park mansion and was reduced to living at his ex-wife’s home in Ascot, where friends and family alike say he had fallen into a deep depression. He was in such desperate financial straits that he had borrowed heavily from Russian mafia kingpins, several friends and law enforcement sources told BuzzFeed News, but had been unable to find a way to pay them back. Navama and Berezovsky’s daughter Elizaveta told officers that in the previous months, the oligarch had talked about ending it all. And in the bathroom where the body was found, there was no sign of a struggle. Police were quick to announce that there was nothing suspicious about the death.

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Boris Berezovsky after losing the High Court dispute with Roman Abramovich that ruined him financially. His bodyguard, Avi Navama, is to his left.
Bloomberg / Getty Images

A split divided Berezovsky’s friends, with some who had witnessed his depression believing that he had killed himself, while others were convinced he had finally fallen victim to the teams of Russian assassins who had been hunting him down for years. “Boris was fucking whacked,” said Brown. Lord Bell, another close friend, said there was no doubt in his mind about who was behind Berezovsky’s death: “If you upset Putin, you disappear.” Members of his family, too, were convinced he had been murdered – and they were not prepared to let the police case go unchallenged.

Berezovsky’s inquest opened a year later in a flurry of publicity. Officers from Surrey police and Scotland Yard arrived in force to make the case that the oligarch had taken his own life. Squaring up to them was Elizaveta, Berezovsky’s adult daughter, who was there to argue that her father had been murdered at the behest of Vladimir Putin. The coroner, Peter Bedford, heard from Dr Simon Poole, the Home Office pathologist who had conducted the postmortem and concluded that Berezovsky’s injuries were consistent with hanging. But Elizaveta had enlisted an eminent German asphyxiation expert, Dr Bernd Brinkmann, to examine photographs of Berezovsky’s body, and he announced that “the strangulation mark is completely different to the strangulation mark in hanging” – circular, instead of V-shaped. And the first paramedic on the scene told the inquest it was “strange” that Berezovsky’s face was “quite a deep purple” when when victims of hanging are usually pale.

“I can think of many people interested in my father’s death,” she said. Asked if she knew who, she replied: “Yes, I think we all know”

There was also a fresh wound on the back of Berezovsky’s head and a fractured rib, as well as the presence of an unidentified fingerprint on the shower rail. The police case was that Berezovsky sustained the injuries when his body fell from the shower rail and concluded that “we are content and believe Mr Berezovsky took his own life”. But Elizaveta offered the inquest a very different perspective: “I can think of many people interested in my father’s death,” she said. Asked by Bedford if she knew who these people were, she replied: “Yes, I think we all know.” The Russian government had wanted to silence her father, she said, and she believed they had succeeded. “He was saying that Putin was a danger to the whole world and you can see that now,” she said.

As a result of the conflicting testimony, the coroner said he could not determine beyond reasonable doubt the cause of Berezovsky’s death. He recorded an open verdict.

Several senior counter-terror officers, who had been monitoring continual threats against Berezovsky for years, told BuzzFeed News that they would always suspect that he had, finally, been murdered. Walton, Scotland Yard’s former counter-terror commander, said that behind the scenes his department had investigated Berezovsky’s death “very thoroughly” and had not been able to find any evidence of murder, but he would never be able to shake “lingering doubt”. Davenport, another counter-terror officer involved in the Berezovsky case, said that in some cases where Russian assassins “have effectively killed someone and faked suicide”, they do “such a good job of it that medically and legally, you’ve got to say that’s where it all points to” – despite intelligence to the contrary. Sophisticated agents were also adept at planting evidence to make a person appear to have been “saying they feel down, anxious, like they’re losing control” in preparation for a staged suicide, he said.

Behind the scenes, BuzzFeed News has learned, British spies received intelligence from their American counterparts suggesting that Berezovsky was assassinated. Though they could not assert with certainty that the killing was carried out on orders from the Kremlin, the evidence linking the oligarch’s death to Russia was considered compelling, four US intelligence sources said.

Young was, by now, a shadow of his former self: hounded day and night by angry creditors, ever more terrified about the threats he believed he faced, and fighting tooth and nail to suppress the secrets of his dealings with Berezovsky. After seven years, 65 divorce hearings, and three months in prison for contempt, he had still failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the sudden disappearance of his fortune. The High Court judge was forced to make his final ruling blind. “Doing the best I can, I find that he still has £45 million hidden from this court,” the judge ruled. Young was ordered to give Michelle half of that, and several million more to cover her legal costs. The judge acknowledged that “the Wife will have difficulties in enforcing my order” but told Young “this debt will exist for all time”.

Stephen Jones, the offshore lawyer who arranged the Project Moscow buyout, had remained close to Young and said the hard-drinking, high-living wheeler-dealer had in 2014 made the surprise move of turning to religion. The pair would go to an evening church service every Wednesday and then would have dinner at Jones’ home. But anyone who knew Young could see that he was not at peace – Jones observed on several occasions that he was being tailed by a “rough, unshaven man”, and Brown said Young seemed increasingly “shifty” and “desperate”.

When the awful news finally came on a cold morning in December, Michelle was the first in Scot Young's family to hear it. Shaking all over, she came into her youngest daughter’s bedroom and said: “Your father has jumped off a building.” Sasha didn’t believe it. A few days before, her father had called to tell her he was checking himself into a psychiatric unit to stay out of danger, and he was not due out for several more days.

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View from the window from which Young fell.

Sasha called her sister Scarlet and the two of them set off to check on their dad in the hospital. But Young wasn’t there. Staff brought them tissues while they phoned the police in tears and begged in vain for facts. Then, googling on their mobiles, they found articles reporting Young’s death: He had fallen four stories from his bedroom window and been impaled on the spikes of the iron fence below – so deeply that the entire section of the railings had to be cut away to remove his body. The two young women left the hospital in shock and threw up outside. “We didn’t only lose our father; we lost him in such a brutal way,” Sasha said.

It wasn’t until around 8pm that the police finally showed up at the door – two days after Young’s fall. Their father had killed himself, the officers said, and the death was not being investigated.

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Brown arrived in London the following day, and together with Sasha and Scarlet, started looking for answers.

First, they went to speak to Young’s fiancé, Reno. She told them what she had told the police – that she and Young had split up just before he went into hospital, and he had returned home unexpectedly at around 3:30pm on 8 December, just as she was waiting for a locksmith to come and change the locks. They had a blazing row, Reno said, and Young refused to leave. In the altercation, one of her two phones had accidentally been dropped down the toilet, so after the locks had been changed she left Young inside the flat and set off to buy a new one. On her way, she said, Young called her on her second phone and said: “I’m going to jump. Stay on the phone and you will hear me.” She hung up, and minutes later he had fallen – at around 5:15pm. Reno declined to speak to BuzzFeed News.

“As soon as I saw the window I knew that he couldn’t have done it”

Sasha and Scarlet couldn’t square that account with the calm, cheerful calls they had received from their father in the same period. A call to Scarlet at 5:08pm had gone to voicemail, and she still had the recording. “Hi Scarlet, just wanted to say I love you loads, miss you terribly, and I’m all okay, don’t worry about me. Love you! Bye,” the message said. She would listen to that message what felt like a thousand times over, trying to make sense of it. A minute later – just five minutes before he fell – he had called Sasha to tell her he loved her too and would call her again in the morning. It isn’t uncommon for those on the verge of suicide to leave messages for their loved ones that don’t betray their intentions – but neither of Young’s daughters could believe that those calls had been meant as a final goodbye.

Next, they went with Brown to examine the scene of their father’s fall. The three of them had driven by the flat the night before, while it was still sealed with police tape, and they had been spooked to see a light in the upstairs window. Now they walked through the door that the police had smashed open and took in the place where Young spent his last moments.

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Young's daughters could not understand how he had manoeuvred out of such a small window opening without knocking over the items on the windowsill.
Supplied/BuzzFeed News

The flat was immaculate, with pristine white walls and cream carpet. They made their way into the bedroom, and went over to the sash window from which Young had fallen. Pulling it up, they found it only opened about 50 centimetres, about the same as the distance from his elbow to his fingertips. “As soon as I saw the window I knew that he couldn’t have done it,” Sasha explained. “That window was so small and he was so tall, it would take a few minutes just to manoeuvre out of it.”

Stranger still, there was a can of Diet Coke, a packet of Marlboro Menthols, and a cigarette lighter lined up neatly in a row on the narrow window ledge. “Lighters are very slim and dainty objects,” said Sasha. “It would have been smashed on the floor, and the Coke would have been spilled if he had manoeuvred himself up. But they were perfectly placed there.” Leaning out of the window, they looked down at the last sight their father’s eyes took in and saw the sharp iron fence looming up below. It made no sense to them that, from such a small opening, he would have hurled himself on to those spikes – especially because he had an almost debilitating fear of heights. And then, they spotted something that gave them chills.

Scratches on the windowsill photographed by Young's daughters
Supplied/BuzzFeed News
Scratches on the windowsill photographed by Young's daughters
On either side of the outside windowsill, there were rows of faint scratch marks in the dirt, about as far apart as the fingers on a hand. “I guess it’s him fighting for his life,” Sasha said.

They took photographs of the inside of the flat, the narrow window opening, and the marks on the sill. That, already, was more than the police had done. The two young women opened the wardrobe and each put on one of their dad’s big, snuggly jumpers, which still had his scent. Then they set off to confront the police.

They met with Detective Sergeant Christopher Page, the senior officer who had determined that Young’s death was not suspicious. A contemporaneous record of the meeting shows that the two daughters told Page their father had called them the Saturday before his death to say he was in danger. They said he knew “a lot of unsavoury characters” including “a lot of Russian oligarchs” and warned them “constantly” that “we had to be careful, he had to be careful, everyone had to be careful because of these characters”. Several of their father’s friends and associates had died in suspicious circumstances, they pointed out, including Boris Berezovsky and Robbie Curtis.

Page was unmoved. Reno’s account of Young’s last-minute call threatening to jump was enough to preclude any investigation. “From our point of view it was a clear case,” the detective told them. “He has threatened to commit suicide, the method he has described, and that happened.”

Scarlet was incensed. “We want the CCTV,” she insisted. “And has the apartment been properly inspected? Did you take recent fingerprints? Did you do anything?” Page replied: “We wouldn’t have need, given the circumstances.”

Eventually, Page did agree to check the CCTV cameras in the area, though the police would later admit that they never watched the footage until they were ordered to do so by the coroner six months later. At the moment Young fell, every single camera in the square was pointing away from the window.

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At the funeral, which 200 people attended, the sisters said they were approached by a man they didn’t know, who warned them to “stop asking questions” about how their father had died because it “wasn’t safe”. And things got stranger when Brown stood to give his eulogy and the vicar introduced him as “one of the last surviving members of Project Moscow”.

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Jonathan Brown with Sasha and Scarlet at Young's funeral
David Parker

Young’s inquest came in July 2015. Coroner Shirley Radcliffe heard first from Dr Rachel Berg, the psychiatrist who had discharged him from the Gordon Hospital on the afternoon of his death. When Young had admitted himself on 4 December, he had appeared to be in the grip of a “manic episode”, she said, because “he said he was hearing voices and feeling unsafe as people wanted to kill him”. He said he had momentarily contemplated jumping off a balcony, but thoughts of his daughters had stopped him. After four days in the hospital, Young was “stable and well”, denying any thoughts of self-harm. Surmising that the manic episode had been caused by cocaine use, she deemed him well enough to go home, and he left the hospital around 2:30pm.

Berg told the inquest that it would be highly unlikely for Young to have relapsed straight after leaving hospital unless he had used a lot of cocaine. But toxicology tests showed he was clean and sober when he fell. Jaqueline Julyan, a barrister working for Young’s daughters, played the voicemail Young had left for Scarlet, and asked the psychiatrist to comment on what it revealed about his state of mind. “All I can deduce is that the signs of a manic stage are not there,” she replied. “It is normal and matches his state when I discharged him earlier that day.”

Next, Dr Nathaniel Cary, the Home Office pathologist who conducted the postmortem, testified that in addition to injuries “consistent with impalement”, Young also had a “severe head injury”, grazes on his arms, wrist, and thumb, and a cut on the tip of his middle finger. Julyan wanted to know how he had picked up these additional injuries. It was likely that Young “hit something as he fell”, Cary said, adding that “sometimes people hit awnings”. But there weren’t any awnings on the house in Montagu Square, and no one had checked whether it was possible for him to have hit anything on the way down.

As for the wounds on Young’s arms and hands, the pathologist said these were “typical of falls” because “people can grip to stay in”. Except, of course, that Young was meant to have thrown himself out of the window deliberately. The barrister asked if the pathologist had performed any checks on the windowsill to establish whether there were any marks that could account for the injuries. “That would be the responsibility of scene of crime officers,” he said.

When Detective Sergeant Page took the stand, Julyan showed him a picture of the scratches on the windowsill and asked if they had been examined by officers at the scene. “I didn’t see them, it was dark,” he said. The lawyer asked if he had seen them when he went back in daylight. “I didn’t go back,” he replied.

“These things would have been followed if it had been a suspicious death but it was not suspicious”

The detective acknowledged that the window was so small as to be “difficult to climb through” and he posited, stretching his arms forward like Superman, that Young had gone out “front first with hands out”. Why, Julyan wanted to know, had officers closed the window before it was photographed, rather than leaving it open to document the narrow gap through which Young was meant to have jumped? “This was as the weather could change and we didn’t want to lose the forensics,” Page replied. But the officers had not carried out any forensic work. The barrister asked how it was that Young had landed on the railings – a metre out from the wall. “I’ve got no idea. These things would have been followed if it had been a suspicious death but it was not suspicious,” the officer replied.

At the end of the hearing, the coroner said that while she believed “the police are entirely correct in that there is no suspicious circumstances”, she also could not ignore the evidence from Young’s daughters and several of his friends that he had sounded calm and rational on the phone in the minutes before his death – and she noted that there was no evidence to explain the marks on the windowsill that the police had missed, or the trajectory of Young’s body from the window on to the railings. “I have concluded that there is inconclusive evidence to determine his state of mind and intention when he came out of the window,” she said. She recorded an open verdict.

It was a victory for Sasha and Scarlet, who hadn’t wanted their father’s death to go down as a suicide. But they still had no real answers about how their father had met his end. “People can read about it and think how shocking and how terrible it was, but that’s just a story to them and it has been our lives,” said Sasha. “You miss him all the time and it’s not something that goes away.”

“People can read about it and think how shocking and how terrible it was, but that’s just a story to them and it has been our lives”

BuzzFeed News has learned that, while the police shut down the case, dismissed the Russian connection, and rebuffed the concerns of Young’s family and friends, Britain’s spy agencies were secretly asking their American counterparts if his risky dealings in Moscow had finally caught up with him.

Four high-ranking American intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News they suspect Young was assassinated. And his death is one reason US intelligence officials believe that Russia’s campaign of targeted assassination around the globe is accelerating. “The Kremlin has aggressively stepped up its efforts to eliminate and silence its enemies abroad over the past couple of years,” one high-ranking official said. “Particularly in Britain.”

In our next story, BuzzFeed News will reveal another suspected assassination – this time of a public servant working on a highly sensitive assignment – that the British authorities have treated as suicide.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/heidiblake/fro ... .kyDZJL8GA
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:58 pm

The Secrets Of The Spy In The Bag
After the dead body of an MI6 spy was found locked in a sports bag in London, police said the death was “probably an accident” – but British and American spy agencies have secret intelligence suggesting Gareth Williams may have been assassinated over highly sensitive work on Russia.

Posted on June 20, 2017, at 11:55 a.m.
By Tom Warren (Investigations Correspondent) Jason Leopold (BuzzFeed News Reporter) Alex Campbell (BuzzFeed News Deputy Investigations Editor, UK) Richard Holmes (Investigations Reporter) Jane Bradley (Investigations Correspondent) Heidi Blake (BuzzFeed News Investigations Editor, UK)
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A British spy whose naked body was found decomposing in a padlocked sports bag in his bathtub is among at least 14 people suspected of having been killed by Russian assassins on British soil, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

Police declared the death of Gareth Williams “probably an accident” – but British intelligence agencies have been secretly communicating with their American counterparts about suspicions that the spy was executed by Russian assassins, four US intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News.

An ongoing BuzzFeed News investigation has revealed that British and American spy agencies have intelligence connecting a string of suspected assassinations in the UK to Russian state agents or organised criminals – who sometimes cooperate. One high-ranking US intelligence source said: “The Kremlin has aggressively stepped up its efforts to eliminate and silence its enemies abroad over the past couple of years – particularly in Britain.” A second serving official said the circumstances of Williams’ death and 13 others “suggest Russian involvement” and demand “more investigation from the UK”. In all 14 cases, police ruled out foul play while intelligence agencies secretly compiled information connecting the deaths to Russia.

Williams, a 31-year-old codebreaker for Britain’s Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), had been assigned to MI6, and in the months before his death, sources said, he was working with the US National Security Agency. Two senior British police sources with direct knowledge of the case said some of his work was focused on Russia – and one confirmed reports that he had been helping the NSA trace international money-laundering routes that are used by organised crime groups including Moscow-based mafia cells. The NSA did not respond to requests for comment.

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Gareth Williams
Rex / REX/Shutterstock
Gareth Williams
An independent coroner who oversaw the inquest into the spy's death noted in a narrative verdict that it was probably “criminally mediated”. That conclusion “wasn’t what the government wanted,” according to a high-ranking MI6 officer who was serving when the spy died, because it “gives validity to an assumption there was some conspiracy”, for which he insisted there was “absolutely no evidence”.

Scotland Yard, the HQ of Britain’s premier police force, pledged to look into the case further. Then, in 2013, it announced that Williams’ death was likely accidental. Scotland Yard declined to answer a detailed list of questions sent by BuzzFeed News. Citing national security, the British government refused to discuss the specifics of the Williams case or any of the other 13 deaths revealed by BuzzFeed News, but said in a statement that it “takes seriously its obligation to protect people in the UK from hostile state activity – including assassinations”.

Williams went missing in August 2010, and the security services failed to notify the police when he didn’t turn up for work. After his sister raised the alarm with GCHQ, detectives went to his secret service flat in Pimlico – just over the bridge from MI6’s Vauxhall headquarters – and discovered his body.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton, who has now retired, was the most senior officer to attend the scene. He told BuzzFeed News he immediately suspected foul play and believed that the flat had been cleaned up to destroy evidence before the police arrived.

It was a warm August day, but the heating had been turned up to full blast inside and “the flat was absolutely baking”, Sutton told BuzzFeed News. “I imagine that was done deliberately to try to accelerate decomposition.” The body was so badly decomposed that it was impossible for pathologists to determine whether Williams had certain poisons in his system when he died, his inquest heard.

Williams’ body was in a red North Face sports bag which had been placed in the bath – but police found no fingerprints or traces of Williams’ DNA on the rim of the tub, on the bag’s zipper, or on the padlock. The key had been placed under the spy’s decomposing body inside the bag.

Williams’ laptop, mobile phone, and other materials were all laid out neatly on a table in the living room. To Sutton, it appeared that someone had “staged” the crime scene – wiping the flat down to remove DNA and fingerprints, removing incriminating evidence, and leaving out decoy items out for the police to find easily. “It was pretty bloody obvious,” he said. “It was too clean. It was too easy. It was all there on a plate for us.”

Even though Williams had been dead for about 10 days by the time his body was found, no one at GCHQ or MI6 had alerted the police – and even when they realised he was missing, both agencies delayed taking action. Williams’ sister had alerted GCHQ that her brother was missing at around 11.30am, Sutton said, but it was not until around 4.30pm that the spy agencies called the police and requested they visit his flat. “What,” Sutton asked, “went on in those missing five hours?” He told other investigators of his concerns about the crime scene, he said, “but people kind of shrugged their shoulders”.

A high-ranking counter-terror detective who helped oversee the investigation into Williams’ death and asked not to be named told BuzzFeed News that he understood the spy had been working on Russian intelligence-gathering in his final months, and said his death ranked “at the top end of suspiciousness”.

The web of death
SWITCH TO TIMELINE VIEW
FSB
The Kremlin
Russian mafia
Stephen Moss
Stephen Curtis
Igor Ponomarev
Alexander Litvinenko
Yuri Golubev
Daniel McGrory
Badri Patarkatsishvili
Gareth Williams
Paul Castle
Alexander Perepilichnyy
Robbie Curtis
Boris Berezovsky
Johnny Elichaoff
Scot Young
Matthew Puncher
2003
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2005
2006
2007
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2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
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2015
2016
2017
Chris Applegate and Tim Lane / BuzzFeed News
Click on the images to learn more about each death
Williams’ highly secretive work created immediate obstacles for the police. The murder detectives involved were blocked from interviewing his colleagues at MI6 or reviewing relevant documents. Instead, they had to rely upon police officers from SO15, the national counter-terrorism force, who had the security clearance to review the material and pass along anonymised notes.

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The detective chief inspector in charge of the case, Jackie Sebire, did not even learn of some of the evidence relevant to the case – including nine computer memory sticks in a bag found at Williams’ MI6 office – until the coroner’s inquest more than 18 months later. “Naturally, she was upset,” Sutton told BuzzFeed News. Sebire did not respond to a request for comment.

In the wake of Williams’ death, the police briefed the media that he had been visiting bondage websites and drag clubs and had a £15,000 collection of women’s designer clothing. The MI6 insider who spoke to BuzzFeed News said Williams’ “sexual proclivities were sufficiently unusual” to justify the “assumption” that he had asphyxiated by accident in a sex game gone wrong.

A key question during the inquest was whether the spy could have got into the North Face bag by himself. A pathologist for the Home Office said this was possible, but Peter Faulding, an expert who specialises in rescuing people from confined spaces, said he tried to lock himself into an identical bag 300 different times but failed.

Key evidence was lost because Williams' body had been decomposing for around 10 days by the time it was found, meaning postmortem examinations could not determine whether he had been drugged or poisoned before his death. MI6 offered the family a “profound apology” for the delay in reporting Williams’ disappearance.

Williams’ family declined to speak with BuzzFeed News, but lawyers for the spy’s parents and sister said in court the family believed a third party had been involved in his death or had destroyed evidence at the scene, and they suspected this person “was a member of some agency specialising in the dark arts of the secret services”.

The coroner, Fiona Wilcox, delivered an open verdict, saying that though there was likely criminal involvement in Williams' death, she could not say with certainty. Scotland Yard undertook to investigate further, but 18 months later officers announced that Williams had “probably” died by accident. At a press briefing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said that he believed it was “theoretically possible” Williams had padlocked the bag from the inside, though he conceded that “many questions remain unanswered”.

Hewitt strenuously denied that intelligence agencies had covered up what happened to Williams. “I do not believe that I have had the wool pulled over my eyes,” he said.

At the same time, BuzzFeed News has learned MI6 was sitting on secret US intelligence suggesting Williams’ death could be connected to his work on Russia. American officials did not disclose details of the intelligence they have relating to Williams’ death, but four high-ranking intelligence sources confirmed that the information had been shared with Britain’s secret service.

After the police announced in 2013 that they believed his death was an accident, the family released a statement: “The fact that the circumstances of his death are still unknown adds to our grief.”
https://www.buzzfeed.com/tomwarren/secr ... .iiDZg8Q5O
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:43 pm

Image

The Man Who Knew Too Much
His nuclear research helped a judge determine that former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko had been assassinated – likely on Putin’s orders. Just months after the verdict, the scientist himself was found stabbed to death with two knives. Police deemed it a suicide, but US intelligence officials suspect it was murder.

Posted on June 19, 2017, at 12:16 p.m.
By Jane Bradley (Investigations Correspondent) Jason Leopold (BuzzFeed News Reporter) Richard Holmes (Investigations Reporter) Tom Warren (Investigations Correspondent) Heidi Blake (BuzzFeed News Investigations Editor, UK) Alex Campbell (BuzzFeed News Deputy Investigations Editor, UK)
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This is Part Three of a BuzzFeed News investigation.
Part One: Poison In The System
Part Two: From Russia With Blood
Part Four: The Secrets Of The Spy In The Bag

When police entered the red brick house in Oxfordshire, they found the body of a stocky, bushy-haired scientist sprawled across the kitchen floor. Blood from severe wounds in his neck, arms, and stomach pooled around him. A large kitchen knife lay in his lifeless hand, and a second smaller blade was in the kitchen sink.

The murder detective who attended the scene would tell his inquest that she was shocked to witness injuries that were “so extensive”. Still, the police and coroner declared it a suicide – concluding that Dr Matthew Puncher had somehow managed to stab and slash himself repeatedly with two separate knives before succumbing to his wounds. Suicide by stabbing is rare – and cases with multiple wounds are exceedingly so. But this case was still more unusual.

Puncher, a renowned government radiation scientist, had played a key role in uncovering one of the most shocking assassinations in a century: the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a defector from the Russian security services in London. Puncher was part of a team of scientists whose research discovered a vital clue that helped a British inquiry conclude Litvinenko’s murder was likely ordered by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Police were quick to close the case on Puncher's death, determining that there were no grounds for suspicion, despite his role in that international controversy and research trips he subsequently made to Russia on behalf of the British and American governments.

Now, BuzzFeed News can reveal that Puncher is among at least 14 people US intelligence officials suspect were killed in the UK by Russian mafia groups or secret services, two forces that sometimes work together, since Putin’s rise to power. Four American intelligence officials said US spies have gathered intelligence about the scientist’s death and believe that he “was assassinated”. They said they have passed MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service, information connecting Puncher’s death – and 13 others – to Russia. Yet the British police have ruled out suspicions in all those cases and shut down any further investigation.
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Russian assassins are being allowed to operate in Britain with impunity, 17 current and former high-ranking intelligence officials on both sides of the Atlantic told BuzzFeed News. Litvinenko’s assassination was a blatant act of provocation that could not be ignored. But many other less glaring cases have gone unpunished, sources said, out of a desire to avoid antagonising Russia and to protect the flow of Russian money into British banks and properties.

Last week we revealed that US spy agencies had handed the British government high-grade intelligence that the Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, who died in Surrey in 2012, was likely assassinated on the direct orders of the Kremlin – but the authorities sidelined that and other evidence pointing to murder, instead declaring that he had died of natural causes. Then we exposed intelligence connecting the Russian state or mafia to the deaths of nine more men in the UK, including the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and his British fixer Scot Young, that were all deemed unsuspicious by the British police.

Today, as we reveal fresh evidence in the Puncher case, we can also disclose US intelligence connecting two further deaths in Britain to the assassination of Litvinenko:

The Russian diplomat Igor Ponomarev died in London two days before Litvinenko was poisoned – and on the eve of a planned meeting with Mario Scaramella, a key associate of the defector who was investigating corrupt activities by the Russian secret services in Italy. Ponomarev complained of extreme thirst and reportedly downed three litres of water just before keeling over after a trip to the opera, raising suspicions that he, too, had been poisoned – but his body was reportedly whisked back to Russia before a postmortem could be performed. Four high-ranking intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News that US spy agencies have information suggesting he was assassinated.

Daniel McGrory – a journalist for The Times who reported extensively on Litvinenko’s death – died five days before the airing of a documentary about the case in which he was interviewed. McGrory’s family firmly believe he died of natural causes, telling BuzzFeed News an autopsy found he had a brain haemorrhage due to an enlarged heart. But now the four American intelligence sources have told BuzzFeed News that British intelligence officials are so concerned about Russia-sanctioned killings that they have taken a harder look, asking US spy agencies for information about McGrory's death “in the context of assassinations”. A second contributor to the documentary, the US security consultant Paul Joyal, was shot outside his home shortly after it aired by two unknown assailants, and only narrowly survived.

In Puncher’s case, an investigation by BuzzFeed News has uncovered suspicions that the scientist and his colleagues were being tailed by the Russian secret service, the FSB, during visits to the country in the months before he died. And though British police testified at the inquest into Puncher's death that “no-one in his family seemed particularly surprised he had taken his own life”, it can now be revealed that officers never interviewed several close relatives and colleagues, some of whom suspect foul play. One source close to the family said Puncher’s death was “highly suspicious” and likely connected to work he was doing in Russia that came to the attention of the FSB. “If that’s the case,” the relative said, “it could only have come from Putin.”
Image
A young Dr Matthew Puncher.
Supplied/BuzzFeed News
A young Dr Matthew Puncher.
A former senior counter-terror officer for Scotland Yard, the UK’s premier police force, told BuzzFeed News Puncher’s death should have been investigated as a potential assassination. A suicide by multiple knife wounds, he said, “is very unusual”. Puncher’s trips to Russia before his death should be “properly investigated”, he continued, especially given the scientist’s role in the Litvinenko investigation. He said he was “alarmed” that the case had rested with local police officers in Thames Valley “because they wouldn’t have the ability to follow through the international links” and said it should have been escalated to the elite team of counter-terror officers who investigated Litvinenko’s killing. Thames Valley police said they have “received no new evidence regarding this investigation since the inquest was held".

Prime minister Theresa May is now facing mounting pressure to explain her role in concealing evidence relating to Russian assassinations in Britain. In her six years as home secretary, she spearheaded the British government’s response to national security threats, and she personally intervened to delay the public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death, citing the need to protect “international relations” with Russia. The British government declined to comment on Puncher's case or the other 13 deaths, citing national security concerns. But a spokesperson said in a statement: “The UK Government takes seriously its obligation to protect people in the UK from hostile state activity – including assassinations.”

Today, we reveal the story of a man who knew too much about one of Russia's most notorious assassinations – and the British authorities who looked the other way when he met his brutal end.


As Alexander Litvinenko faded fast in a London hospital in November 2006 – losing his hair, shedding weight, and turning yellow from jaundice as his organs failed – the spy turned passionate Kremlin critic insisted that he had been poisoned by Russian agents acting on Putin’s orders. But doctors were flummoxed: Though his symptoms suggested radiation sickness, their Geiger counters detected no evidence of the gamma rays commonly associated with radioactive materials.

Then, after extensive tests, a team of government scientists struck upon a seismic discovery: Litvinenko had been given a fatal dose of polonium 210 – a rare nuclear isotope that emits alpha rather than gamma rays and is therefore undetectable by regular radiation checks. The discovery of the polonium in the defector’s system came three weeks after he had first fallen ill. The following morning, he was dead.

It fell to the affable and unassuming Puncher, a scientist at the government’s Health Protection Agency who had spent a decade studying the effects of radiation on the human body, to measure the precise amount of polonium in the dead man’s system. The level of radioactive contamination he discovered was off the scale. “This is an unprecedented event in the UK,” the HPA said in a public statement. “It is the first time someone in the UK has apparently been deliberately poisoned with a radioactive agent.”

The discovery put the Kremlin squarely in the frame. Russia, which keeps polonium under rigorous state control, is the only country in the world that produces the radioactive chemical in the amounts used to kill Litvinenko. On the eve of his death, Litvinenko himself had released a statement accusing the Russian president, warning that “the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life”. That message, and a harrowing image of the emaciated, hairless defector on his deathbed, had been beamed around the globe.
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Alexander Litvinenko on his deathbed.
Getty
Alexander Litvinenko on his deathbed.
Now that the scientists had identified polonium’s unusual alpha rays, detectives from Scotland Yard’s elite counter-terror force were able to discover a radioactive trail all over London left behind by the two men Litvinenko had accused of his murder. Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun had contaminated almost everything they touched since arriving on a British Airways flight from Russia: Traces of polonium were found in their hotel rooms, the restaurants and strip club they had visited, and the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel where they had slipped the poison into Litvinenko’s tea.

The evidence was so blatant that authorities had no option but to take action. The Crown Prosecution Service charged Lugovoy and Kovtun, both of whom denied any role in the killing, with murder. But the Russian government refused to extradite the two assassins, and diplomatic relations between the two countries all but ground to a halt, with both sides expelling diplomats. Without access to the two prime suspects, the police investigation stalled too.

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It took almost 10 years for the government to relent to demands for a full public inquiry into Litvinenko’s killing, after the official inquest into his cause of death stalled because it lacked powers to hear top secret evidence from MI6. Theresa May explained in a 2013 letter to the coroner that “international relations have been a factor in the Government’s decision-making” not to establish an inquiry empowered to review classified material. But then, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea sparked international condemnation, the position changed.

Sir Robert Owen heard testimony for almost a year, much of it held behind closed doors, and in January 2016 his inquiry delivered an explosive verdict. Lugovoy and Kovtun had killed Litvinenko in an FSB operation that was “probably approved”, the judge said, “by President Putin”.

The Kremlin dismissed the verdict as a “blatant provocation” by the British government. One Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the case had been “politicised” and “darkened the general atmosphere of our bilateral relations”. Lugovoy, who was now a member of the Russian parliament and had been awarded a medal for “services to the motherland” by Putin during the inquiry, dismissed the verdict as “a pathetic attempt by London to use a ‘skeleton in the cupboard’ to support their political ambitions”. A variety of unnamed government sources were quoted by Kremlin-controlled media outlets warning of “serious consequences” for Britain.

And, at that very moment, Puncher was hard at work on another project that would bring him directly into the sights of the Russian state. In the weeks directly before and after the verdict, his work would take him to Russia to study the effects of radiation at the Mayak nuclear site – the state facility that was the very source of the polonium used to kill Litvinenko. Soon he too would be dead.


The Mayak nuclear facility is a place so secretive that until recently it was not even on the map. Buried deep in the forests of Russia’s Ural mountains, and surrounded by a 250km exclusion zone, it is home to the country’s most closely guarded nuclear secrets. This was the birthplace of the Soviet atomic bomb project, and the site of a series of devastating nuclear disasters that were covered up for decades until the fall of the USSR. It is one of the most contaminated places on the planet – known by some as “the graveyard of the earth”.

When Puncher travelled to Russia in the final weeks of Litvinenko inquiry, he was there on behalf of the US government. He had been placed in charge of a sensitive assignment – codenamed Project 2.4 – to measure the effects on workers of radiation from the plutonium produced at the Mayak facility. Nuclear spills had caused widespread sickness, mutations, cancer, and radiation poisoning among nearby residents, and the facility had accepted US help in improving safety at the site.

Puncher’s assignment was part of a US federal contract given to Public Health England, the government agency that succeeded the HPA to guard the British public from health hazards including chemical and nuclear exposure. Under the US research contract, Puncher and his team were tasked with working on software programs designed to measure the risks of radiation exposure at Mayak.

Project 2.4 had taken Puncher to Russia a number of times – and as he and his colleagues went about their work, they noticed something disquieting. They were being “followed and bugged”, Dr Alan Birchall told BuzzFeed News, “definitely by the FSB” and, they suspected, also by British spies. “It wasn’t a happy project to work on,” said Birchall, a long-time scientist who accompanied Puncher on several trips to Russia and knew him well.

On one of those trips, just before Christmas 2015, something happened that left Puncher a haunted man. When he returned, his disposition had “changed completely”, his wife would later tell the inquest into his cause of death. A man who had loved doing homework with his children and cooking at home, who generally had a positive attitude, suddenly “just lost interest”, she testified. “I had to prompt him to do things like getting dressed and washing up, things he did without thinking before.” Kathryn Puncher declined to speak to BuzzFeed News.

Nevertheless, Puncher summoned the energy to return to Russia in February for what was to be his final trip. The translator who accompanied him, Olga Lazareva, told BuzzFeed News that his work went well and she “didn’t see any worrying signs”.

But when he came home, the 46-year-old was in a state of acute distress – telling his family and colleagues that he had made a serious mathematical “mistake” on Project 2.4 that was so bad he was worried he might end up in prison.

His coworkers were baffled. Several told BuzzFeed News that the “coding error” Puncher felt he had made in his secret research was really no big deal, and that he had simply taken “another route” to get the same answer in calculating the effects of the plutonium on local residents. Public Health England said it received no indication that his abilities were in question. His colleague George Etherington told the inquest he had assured Puncher his fears of prosecution were “groundless” and that “he would look back and wonder why he worried so much.” But he said Puncher remained inexplicably inconsolable.

Puncher was so distressed about these mistakes that his mother, Janet, had felt compelled to ask him: “Could someone die?” She later told the police that her son had reassured her there was no risk of that happening.

But soon afterwards Puncher was found dead on his kitchen floor.

The web of death
SWITCH TO TIMELINE VIEW
Russian mafia
The Kremlin
FSB
Stephen Moss
Stephen Curtis
Igor Ponomarev
Alexander Litvinenko
Yuri Golubev
Daniel McGrory
Badri Patarkatsishvili
Gareth Williams
Paul Castle
Alexander Perepilichnyy
Robbie Curtis
Boris Berezovsky
Johnny Elichaoff
Scot Young
Matthew Puncher
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
Chris Applegate and Tim Lane / BuzzFeed News
Click on the images to learn more about each death


To Detective Constable Rachel Carter, who inspected the kitchen, the whole scene was “very unusual”. There was no sign of a struggle: None of the furniture had been knocked over, and all the blood belonged to Puncher. And yet “his injuries were so extensive”, and there was so much blood, that she struggled to believe he had turned two knives upon himself. “It caused me some unease initially,” she testified at his inquest. “I didn’t know how he could have inflicted all those injuries on himself without losing consciousness.”

But the police took evidence from Puncher’s wife Kathryn, who told them her husband had become so crippled with anxiety about his work that he had tried to hang himself with a computer cable the the week before his body was found. Officers determined that Puncher must have managed to stab himself to death, and closed the case.

The Home Office pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt testified that though he could not “entirely exclude” murder, it was possible for Puncher to have knifed himself that many times and still remain conscious. He noted that the scientist “had small wounds to his hands and such injuries may be seen in the context of defensive actions in a third party assault with a blade", but he said it was also possible that they were sustained when the knife became “wetted with blood” and slipped in his hands.

Carter testified that, despite her early doubts, she was ultimately “satisfied’ that it was a suicide. “All the information told us he was very depressed and no-one in his family seemed particularly surprised he had taken his own life,” she said. The coroner, Nicholas Graham, delivered a verdict of suicide.

BuzzFeed News has now spoken with eight relatives and friends of Puncher who all said they were astonished by the suggestion that he was suicidal – but were never interviewed by police. Each said that Puncher had no known history of depression and that his change in disposition after the Russia trip came as a shock, especially for someone known to them as consistently calm and rational. Members of his family said that they only learned of the depression and previous suicide attempt after he died.

Relatives said Thames Valley police had never interviewed the scientist’s son, Sam Puncher, or either of his two brothers, Ben and Seb. Statements were only taken, they said, from Puncher’s parents and wife Kathryn. Sam could not believe that his father had committed suicide, according to his mother, Puncher’s first wife. “He just said straight away: ‘How could my dad do that?’” she said. “‘How could he not say goodbye to me? I don’t understand.’”

“I didn’t know how he could have inflicted all those injuries on himself without losing consciousness”
Many of Puncher’s relatives were unwilling to be named in the context of his death, but a source close to the family said they were baffled that he had been sent back to Russia in the direct aftermath of the public inquiry that had accused Putin of ordering an assassination. “I would be highly critical of sending somebody who had been investigating Litvinenko on a trip to Moscow,” the source told BuzzFeed News.

Dr Phil Blower, a long-time friend of Puncher’s, also wants answers. “It’s very weird that he goes off to Russia then he comes back and is suddenly depressed and irrational,” he said. “I think there are definitely still questions to be asked, and I’m astonished that none of this is being investigated by anyone serious.”

A spokesperson for Public Health England said the “verdict of the Coroner was clear” that Puncher committed suicide, and the agency's “thoughts remain with Dr Puncher’s family".

But the former senior Scotland Yard counter-terror officer who spoke to BuzzFeed News said Puncher’s sudden change of mood should not have been enough to persuade police to rule out foul play in his death. “The state can mess up minds, it can do all sorts of things. It has research laboratories, it has science facilities,” he said. “There are all sorts of drugs that can be given to people to create depression.” He said the proximity of Puncher’s changes of mood to his trips to Russia was potentially “very serious” and should be investigated fully. And he said the local Thames Valley police were in no way equipped to carry out the task. It should, he said, have been taken over by Scotland Yard’s counter-terror team – who have the security clearance needed to communicate with Britain’s spy agencies in case they have any intelligence that might be relevant to solving a case.

Behind the scenes, even as the police investigation was being shut down, BuzzFeed News has learned from four intelligence officials that US spy agencies were providing Britain’s secret intelligence service with information connecting Puncher’s death to Russia. The officials told BuzzFeed News that one factor they take into consideration when assessing whether suspicious deaths can be connected to the Kremlin is: “Could Russia be driving these people to suicide?” But in Puncher’s case, they said their assessment was that he had likely been assassinated. A CIA spokesperson declined to comment on intelligence matters.

In a bizarre twist, after the suicide verdict there was one entity still eager to connect Puncher’s death to the Litvinenko inquiry: the Russian government. Channel One, a state-controlled Russian television outlet, aired a segment calling it a “very strange suicide” and asked, “What was Matthew Puncher afraid of?”

The presenter raised the question: “Could he have made a mistake in the case of Litvinenko?", adding that "according to the British authorities, this question is not relevant”.

US spies watch such pronouncements from Kremlin-controlled media outlets closely. “When Russia kills people they do it to send a message,” one high-ranking official said: “Don’t cross Putin."
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:21 am

The Secrets Of The Spy In The Bag

Image
After the dead body of an MI6 spy was found locked in a sports bag in London, police said the death was “probably an accident” – but British and American spy agencies have secret intelligence suggesting Gareth Williams may have been assassinated over highly sensitive work on Russia.

Posted on June 20, 2017, at 11:55 a.m.
By Tom Warren (Investigations Correspondent) Jason Leopold (BuzzFeed News Reporter) Alex Campbell (BuzzFeed News Deputy Investigations Editor, UK) Richard Holmes (Investigations Reporter) Jane Bradley (Investigations Correspondent) Heidi Blake (BuzzFeed News Investigations Editor, UK)
More
This is Part Four of a BuzzFeed News investigation.
Part One: Poison In The System
Part Two: From Russia With Blood
Part Three: The Man Who Knew Too Much

A British spy whose naked body was found decomposing in a padlocked sports bag in his bathtub is among at least 14 people suspected of having been killed by Russian assassins on British soil, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

Police declared the death of Gareth Williams “probably an accident” – but British intelligence agencies have been secretly communicating with their American counterparts about suspicions that the spy was executed by Russian assassins, four US intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News.

An ongoing BuzzFeed News investigation has revealed that British and American spy agencies have intelligence connecting a string of suspected assassinations in the UK to Russian state agents or organised criminals – who sometimes cooperate. One high-ranking US intelligence source said: “The Kremlin has aggressively stepped up its efforts to eliminate and silence its enemies abroad over the past couple of years – particularly in Britain.” A second serving official said the circumstances of Williams’ death and 13 others “suggest Russian involvement” and demand “more investigation from the UK”. In all 14 cases, police ruled out foul play while intelligence agencies secretly compiled information connecting the deaths to Russia.

Williams, a 31-year-old codebreaker for Britain’s Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), had been assigned to MI6, and in the months before his death, sources said, he was working with the US National Security Agency. Two senior British police sources with direct knowledge of the case said some of his work was focused on Russia – and one confirmed reports that he had been helping the NSA trace international money-laundering routes that are used by organised crime groups including Moscow-based mafia cells. The NSA did not respond to requests for comment.
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Gareth Williams
Rex / REX/Shutterstock
Gareth Williams
An independent coroner who oversaw the inquest into the spy's death noted in a narrative verdict that it was probably “criminally mediated”. That conclusion “wasn’t what the government wanted,” according to a high-ranking MI6 officer who was serving when the spy died, because it “gives validity to an assumption there was some conspiracy”, for which he insisted there was “absolutely no evidence”.

Scotland Yard, the HQ of Britain’s premier police force, pledged to look into the case further. Then, in 2013, it announced that Williams’ death was likely accidental. Scotland Yard declined to answer a detailed list of questions sent by BuzzFeed News. Citing national security, the British government refused to discuss the specifics of the Williams case or any of the other 13 deaths revealed by BuzzFeed News, but said in a statement that it “takes seriously its obligation to protect people in the UK from hostile state activity – including assassinations”.

Williams went missing in August 2010, and the security services failed to notify the police when he didn’t turn up for work. After his sister raised the alarm with GCHQ, detectives went to his secret service flat in Pimlico – just over the bridge from MI6’s Vauxhall headquarters – and discovered his body.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton, who has now retired, was the most senior officer to attend the scene. He told BuzzFeed News he immediately suspected foul play and believed that the flat had been cleaned up to destroy evidence before the police arrived.

It was a warm August day, but the heating had been turned up to full blast inside and “the flat was absolutely baking”, Sutton told BuzzFeed News. “I imagine that was done deliberately to try to accelerate decomposition.” The body was so badly decomposed that it was impossible for pathologists to determine whether Williams had certain poisons in his system when he died, his inquest heard.

Williams’ body was in a red North Face sports bag which had been placed in the bath – but police found no fingerprints or traces of Williams’ DNA on the rim of the tub, on the bag’s zipper, or on the padlock. The key had been placed under the spy’s decomposing body inside the bag.

Williams’ laptop, mobile phone, and other materials were all laid out neatly on a table in the living room. To Sutton, it appeared that someone had “staged” the crime scene – wiping the flat down to remove DNA and fingerprints, removing incriminating evidence, and leaving out decoy items out for the police to find easily. “It was pretty bloody obvious,” he said. “It was too clean. It was too easy. It was all there on a plate for us.”

Even though Williams had been dead for about 10 days by the time his body was found, no one at GCHQ or MI6 had alerted the police – and even when they realised he was missing, both agencies delayed taking action. Williams’ sister had alerted GCHQ that her brother was missing at around 11.30am, Sutton said, but it was not until around 4.30pm that the spy agencies called the police and requested they visit his flat. “What,” Sutton asked, “went on in those missing five hours?” He told other investigators of his concerns about the crime scene, he said, “but people kind of shrugged their shoulders”.

A high-ranking counter-terror detective who helped oversee the investigation into Williams’ death and asked not to be named told BuzzFeed News that he understood the spy had been working on Russian intelligence-gathering in his final months, and said his death ranked “at the top end of suspiciousness”.

The web of death
SWITCH TO TIMELINE VIEW
FSB
The Kremlin
Russian mafia
Stephen Moss
Stephen Curtis
Igor Ponomarev
Alexander Litvinenko
Yuri Golubev
Daniel McGrory
Badri Patarkatsishvili
Gareth Williams
Paul Castle
Alexander Perepilichnyy
Robbie Curtis
Boris Berezovsky
Johnny Elichaoff
Scot Young
Matthew Puncher
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
Chris Applegate and Tim Lane / BuzzFeed News
Click on the images to learn more about each death
Williams’ highly secretive work created immediate obstacles for the police. The murder detectives involved were blocked from interviewing his colleagues at MI6 or reviewing relevant documents. Instead, they had to rely upon police officers from SO15, the national counter-terrorism force, who had the security clearance to review the material and pass along anonymised notes.

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The detective chief inspector in charge of the case, Jackie Sebire, did not even learn of some of the evidence relevant to the case – including nine computer memory sticks in a bag found at Williams’ MI6 office – until the coroner’s inquest more than 18 months later. “Naturally, she was upset,” Sutton told BuzzFeed News. Sebire did not respond to a request for comment.

In the wake of Williams’ death, the police briefed the media that he had been visiting bondage websites and drag clubs and had a £15,000 collection of women’s designer clothing. The MI6 insider who spoke to BuzzFeed News said Williams’ “sexual proclivities were sufficiently unusual” to justify the “assumption” that he had asphyxiated by accident in a sex game gone wrong.

A key question during the inquest was whether the spy could have got into the North Face bag by himself. A pathologist for the Home Office said this was possible, but Peter Faulding, an expert who specialises in rescuing people from confined spaces, said he tried to lock himself into an identical bag 300 different times but failed.

Key evidence was lost because Williams' body had been decomposing for around 10 days by the time it was found, meaning postmortem examinations could not determine whether he had been drugged or poisoned before his death. MI6 offered the family a “profound apology” for the delay in reporting Williams’ disappearance.

Williams’ family declined to speak with BuzzFeed News, but lawyers for the spy’s parents and sister said in court the family believed a third party had been involved in his death or had destroyed evidence at the scene, and they suspected this person “was a member of some agency specialising in the dark arts of the secret services”.

The coroner, Fiona Wilcox, delivered an open verdict, saying that though there was likely criminal involvement in Williams' death, she could not say with certainty. Scotland Yard undertook to investigate further, but 18 months later officers announced that Williams had “probably” died by accident. At a press briefing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said that he believed it was “theoretically possible” Williams had padlocked the bag from the inside, though he conceded that “many questions remain unanswered”.

Hewitt strenuously denied that intelligence agencies had covered up what happened to Williams. “I do not believe that I have had the wool pulled over my eyes,” he said.

At the same time, BuzzFeed News has learned MI6 was sitting on secret US intelligence suggesting Williams’ death could be connected to his work on Russia. American officials did not disclose details of the intelligence they have relating to Williams’ death, but four high-ranking intelligence sources confirmed that the information had been shared with Britain’s secret service.

After the police announced in 2013 that they believed his death was an accident, the family released a statement: “The fact that the circumstances of his death are still unknown adds to our grief.”
https://www.buzzfeed.com/tomwarren/secr ... .edMzX95qm


"Everyone thinks he was whacked"
The US government ruled Mikhail Lesin’s death an accident, but multiple intelligence and law enforcement officials suspect it was a Russian hit. The government is withholding information so today BuzzFeed News has filed a lawsuit to pry the records loose.

Posted on July 28, 2017, at 10:59 a.m.
By Jason Leopold (BuzzFeed News Reporter) Ken Bensinger (BuzzFeed News Reporter) Anthony Cormier (BuzzFeed News Reporter) Heidi Blake (BuzzFeed News Investigations Editor) Alex Campbell (BuzzFeed News Deputy Investigations Editor, UK) Tom Warren (Investigations Correspondent) Jane Bradley (Investigations Correspondent) Richard Holmes (Investigations Reporter)
More
This is part of an ongoing BuzzFeed News investigation. Read more here:
Part One: Poison In The System
Part Two: From Russia With Blood
Part Three: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Part Four: The Secrets Of The Spy In The Bag
Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death.

Mikhail Lesin’s battered body was discovered in his Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015, with blunt-force injuries to the head, neck, and torso. After an almost yearlong "comprehensive investigation," a federal prosecutor announced last October that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an "accident," and prosecutors closed the case.

But the two FBI agents — as well as a third agent and a serving US intelligence officer — said Lesin was actually bludgeoned to death. None of these officials were directly involved in the government’s investigation, but they said they learned about it from colleagues who were.

“Lesin was beaten to death,” one of the FBI agents said. “I would implore you to say as much. There seems to be an effort here to cover up that fact for reasons I can't get into.”

He continued: “What I can tell you is that there isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died. Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”

In another previously unreported revelation, the two FBI agents said it was the Department of Justice that paid for the hotel room where Lesin died. DOJ officials had invited the Russian to Washington to interview him about the inner workings of RT, the Kremlin-funded network that Lesin founded, they said.

But Lesin never made it to the interview. He died the night before it was scheduled to take place.

Last month, a two-year investigation by BuzzFeed News revealed explosive evidence pointing to Russia in 14 suspicious deaths on British soil that the UK government had largely ignored. Four high-ranking US intelligence officials confirmed that those deaths had been linked to Russian security services or mafia gangs, two groups that sometimes work in tandem, by “intelligence gathered in the field and analysed” by US spies and handed to Britain’s security services. But the UK police publicly declared that none of the 14 incidents involved foul play. As a result, the public has been kept in the dark about what national security officials have long suspected: Russian assassins may have murdered in the UK with impunity.

Some American officials now fear the threat has hit home. Lesin’s death raised “concerns” that the Kremlin would start “doing here what they do with some regularity in London,” said a former high-level national security official who recently left government. Altogether, 18 current and former intelligence, law enforcement, and other federal officials told BuzzFeed News that they question the official story of how Lesin died.

The FBI, which assisted with the investigation, and the Department of Justice declined to comment. The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said it had nothing to add beyond its statement last year calling Lesin’s death an accident. The DC medical examiner’s office said it is barred by law from releasing details of the autopsy, so would not comment beyond the US Attorney’s statement and a brief summary of its own findings that it released in March. A spokesperson for the DC Metropolitan Police — which led the investigation, deploying homicide detectives — told BuzzFeed News that “we have no evidence to suggest this death involved foul play. However, we will certainly reinvestigate should additional evidence be brought to light."

Urgent questions remain about Lesin’s death. The government is withholding the FBI’s investigative file, which includes critical evidence ranging from surveillance tapes to witness interviews. So today, BuzzFeed News filed a lawsuit to pry that information loose.

A BuzzFeed News reporter submitted requests under the Freedom of Information Act for the FBI’s and the Department of Justice’s complete records of the investigation in 2016. But recently the FBI said that if it can release any documents, it may take as long as two more years for it to do so. The suit, filed in US District Court in Washington, DC, aims to speed up that process.

Lesin, the son of a military construction worker, rose to become one of Russia’s most powerful and influential media officials. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he ran a wildly successful advertising agency and developed the ad campaign that helped Boris Yeltsin win the presidency in 1996. Lesin went on to serve as Yeltsin’s press minister. Vladimir Putin kept him on during his first term as president, and Lesin muzzled anti-Putin critics by helping to consolidate control over the country’s mass media under the Kremlin. The move earned Lesin, a stocky man with a large head, a nickname: “The Bulldozer.”

During Putin’s second term, Lesin was named senior presidential adviser and rose to the top of Putin’s propaganda machine when he conceived and founded Russia Today, which he once described as a news channel to counter Western spin disseminated by news networks such as CNN and the BBC. Later renamed RT, the state-owned media channel broadcasts in the US on cable and via the internet.

Lesin’s career in government ended in 2009 when Dmitry Medvedev took over Russia’s presidency. Over the next three years, Lesin traveled the world and spent lavishly. He owned a yacht — reportedly valued at $40 million — that he named Serenity, and property records show that companies he’s associated with spent at least $28 million on luxury real estate, purchasing sprawling estates in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood for himself; his daughter, Ekaterina Lesina; an RT bureau chief; and his son, Anton Lessine, an up-and-coming Hollywood producer. Multiple sources said Lesin helped finance his son’s films, such as Dirty Grandpa starring Robert De Niro, and Fury starring Brad Pitt.

Neither Lessine nor Lesina, who are based in the US, returned multiple calls and emails seeking comment.

When Putin was elected to a third term in 2012, Lesin returned to Moscow, took over state-owned Gazprom Media, and acquired the conglomerate ProfMedia in what was seen by opposition critics as another effort by the Kremlin to crack down on independent voices in the media.

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Lesin abruptly resigned from Gazprom in December 2014.

At that point, his activities became more murky. Intelligence and law enforcement sources said Lesin had a falling out with Putin’s close confidants and then went into hiding abroad. But five sources told BuzzFeed News he was forced out of Gazprom after US Senator Roger Wicker got wind of Lesin’s US spending spree and wrote to the Department of Justice demanding it investigate. The Justice Department, in turn, referred the matter to the FBI.

Lesin “was feeling good until that letter came out,” said the US intelligence officer. But “Putin decided to cut him loose as a potential liability. Once Putin ditched him, once he lost his protection, Lesin’s partners and competitors started going after him.”

A second US intelligence official said Lesin was hiding out in the Swiss Alps during the summer of 2015, fearful that he would be killed.

Lesin “was running out of options of where to live and hide,” the second intelligence official said. “At this point he was a defector. He contacted the Justice Department and the FBI through a third party. He was worried about his kids and their safety so he wanted to cooperate.”

The three FBI agents who claim Lesin was beaten to death said they were told by colleagues who were assisting Metropolitan Police detectives with the investigation. Two of the agents said they were told that the FBI has obtained evidence and conducted witness interviews that indicate that Lesin was murdered. Neither agent would describe the evidence or give details about who the witnesses were, or what exactly they said. The third said that a colleague working on the case told him in January that Lesin was beaten to death.

The intelligence officer would not say how he knew Lesin was bludgeoned but said that the weapon was a baseball bat. Another source — with direct knowledge of the autopsy performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Washington, DC — offered new information about Lesin’s injuries: He had fractured ribs, a detail that has not been previously reported.

One of the FBI agents said that he learned Lesin was put up by the Justice Department at the Dupont Circle Hotel — a midrange hotel out of keeping with Lesin’s extravagant lifestyle — during an informal “water cooler talk” with a “case agent” working on the investigation. Lesin, he was told, “was going to talk about the inner workings of RT — basically, how the propaganda machine works. DOJ was investigating RT. These are the types of meetings we have with people when we want to recruit them as informants.”

Does he believe Lesin was murdered over RT? “Whether it was over RT, money, pissing off Putin or a combo or all of it, I don’t know,” he answered. “But falling down drunk? Come on. That’s bullshit.”.

The second FBI agent said he learned that the Justice Department had put Lesin up at the hotel from a DOJ official on the case. The DOJ “was investigating something with RT,” he recalled being told, and investigators planned to ask Lesin “how the station operated — how it was run and how the Kremlin used it.”

The Dupont Circle Hotel declined to provide any information about Lesin, citing its policy of protecting guests’ privacy.

BuzzFeed News filed suit today to compel the swift release of investigative records and other documents about Lesin because American intelligence agencies have said that Russia interfered in the US presidential election, ties to Russia are at the heart of the investigations underway involving President Donald Trump’s campaign, and we have revealed that US intelligence officials suspect Russian involvement in 14 deaths on the territory of one of America’s closest allies, Great Britain. ●

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/p ... .fl2pDwRvA
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby Luther Blissett » Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:35 pm

Damn this looks like a great series. I'm going to have to devote some serious time to this.
The Rich and the Corporate remain in their hundred-year fever visions of Bolsheviks taking their stuff - JackRiddler
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Dec 09, 2017 6:06 pm

Police File Exposes Holes In The Investigation Into US Death Of Putin’s Media Czar

The heavily redacted report reveals nothing about how RT founder Mikhail Lesin sustained the blunt force injuries that killed him. And the Washington, DC, police won’t say whether they reviewed three critical hours of hotel security footage between when Lesin was last seen alive and when he died.

December 8, 2017, at 12:47 p.m.

BuzzFeed News
Newly released police files expose significant holes in the investigation into the death of Vladimir Putin’s media czar two years ago in Washington, DC, casting doubt on the official finding of how he died.

After Mikhail Lesin’s corpse was found in a Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015, the coroner determined that he had died from blunt force injuries to the head, and had also sustained blunt force injuries to his neck, torso, upper extremities, and lower extremities. A federal prosecutor closed the case last year, announcing that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.”

Now, the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department has released 58 pages of its case file on Lesin’s death. While many parts are blacked out, what was released raises sharp questions.

Nothing is said about the blunt force injuries that killed Lesin — or even about him falling down, which is how he is supposed to have died.

A disc of hotel security camera footage from the hallway outside Lesin’s room — including three critical hours during the period between when Lesin was last seen alive and when his dead body was found — was defective. Questioned by BuzzFeed News, the police department has repeatedly refused to say if it ever managed to review that footage, raising questions about whether Lesin truly died alone in his room.

The release of the police file comes as the West is grappling with Russia’s increasingly bold interventions. In a two-year investigation, BuzzFeed News showed how America’s closest ally, the UK, has turned a blind eye to 14 deaths on its own soil that US intelligence suspects were in fact hit jobs by the Russian state security services or mafia organizations, two groups that sometimes work together. US spy agencies have shared intelligence on each of those deaths with Britain, yet British police have ruled out foul play in every last case. US intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News they had been watching the pattern of suspected assassinations across the Atlantic with mounting unease, and Lesin’s death aggravated their fears.

BuzzFeed News has previously reported that three FBI agents and an intelligence officer said Lesin had in fact been bludgeoned to death, directly contradicting the official finding. Two of them said he died on the eve of a planned interview with officials from the Department of Justice, who wanted to learn about the inner workings of RT, the Russian state-funded news and propaganda network that Lesin founded.

DC’s Metropolitan Police Department released the case file earlier this week, following Freedom of Information Act requests from BuzzFeed News and other news organizations. The department’s homicide branch carried out the investigation, with assistance from the FBI. The investigation ran for 11 months.
Image
Mikhail Lesin in 2002.
Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty Images
Mikhail Lesin in 2002.
The case file shows that Lesin, a known alcoholic, had been drinking heavily. The Washington Post, which first reported on the police files, recounts how Lesin brought copious amounts of alcohol into his rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel and later at the Dupont Circle Hotel, where his body was discovered. He carried in two bottles of red wine, a six-pack of Guinness, and a bottle of Johnnie Walker whiskey, the files show. His blood alcohol level was .15, almost twice the limit for driving. Liquor bottles, both empty and unopened, were found strewn about the room where he was found dead, and he had emptied the room’s mini fridge.

But the case file, which misstates dates and at least one address, also reveals key gaps in the investigation.

The unredacted parts of the file say nothing about the blunt force injuries that killed the Russian media titan, nor do they mention any of the falls that supposedly led to his death.

About a day and a half before Lesin was found dead, a hotel security officer talked with him and noticed a bruise below the Russian’s left eye, which is also visible on security camera footage. But an officer who reviewed hotel camera footage from the lobby noted that from the way Lesin walked, he “does not appear to be in any pain.” And just 21 hours before Lesin was found dead, two officers — it is unclear from the report if they were hotel security guards or police officers — visited him in his room and briefly spoke to him. Asked if they noticed any injuries on Lesin, one of the officers said they did not. (The report does not note the other officer’s response.)

The Metropolitan Police Department declined to answer questions about Lesin’s injuries or falls.

The unredacted parts of the police file say nothing about the blunt force injuries that killed the Russian media titan.
Another part of the report suggests that police might never have reviewed hotel surveillance footage that covered three critical hours between when Lesin was last seen alive and the time he was found dead, calling into question the finding that he died alone in his hotel room.

Lesin was staying in a penthouse suite on the ninth floor of the Dupont Circle Hotel. According to a timeline provided by the hotel to the police, Lesin was last seen alive at 8:17 p.m. on Nov. 4. At that time, police files say, a hotel security officer and another person entered Lesin’s hotel room and found him “lying on the carpet on the floor face down and passed out.” They noted that he was breathing. They failed to to wake him up and left the room.

Fifteen hours later, at 11:32 a.m. on Nov. 5, Lesin’s corpse was discovered, the police files say.
Image
Part of the police case file provided to BuzzFeed News.
Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department
Part of the police case file provided to BuzzFeed News.

About two weeks later, on Nov. 19, a Metropolitan Police officer proceeded to review two discs containing security camera footage from the hotel’s ninth-floor hallway, which would show if Lesin left his room on that floor or if anyone entered the hall. The first disc contained footage going to 11:14 p.m., three hours later than the last live sighting of Lesin. But, the report says, “unfortunately there was a problem with the recording on the disc provided.”

So the officer reviewed footage from a second disc showing the ninth-floor hallway from 11:14 p.m. onward.

"Unfortunately there was a problem with the recording on the disc provided."
On Jan. 5, 2016, a different Metropolitan Police officer went to the department’s video surveillance unit, where, the files say, he was met by the person who “downloaded all of the footage from the cameras at the Dupont Hotel.” The officer writes that he “began to watch all of the footage,” but there is no mention of whether he watched the video from the defective disc or what it may have shown of that crucial period between when Lesin was last seen and when he was found dead.

When first asked about the defective disc, the Metropolitan Police Department sent BuzzFeed News to the Dupont Circle Hotel, which, in turn, directed comment back to the police. Pressed twice more by BuzzFeed News, the police department declined to say if it had reviewed the critical hours of footage. Finally, in a phone call on Friday, a spokesperson for the department said she had forwarded the question to the homicide branch, which had declined to comment.

The officers listed in the police files as attempting to watch the footage did not respond to phone and email messages.

The police files — which show that homicide detectives interviewed witnesses as late as August 2016, nine months after Lesin died — include other details. They say that Lesin paid for his room with $1,200 in cash, contradicting FBI agents who previously told BuzzFeed News that the Justice Department had paid for the room. Reached again, the FBI agents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, continued to maintain that the Justice Department had paid for Lesin’s room. The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.



Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department
Police photos from the scene of Lesin's death.

Finally, a timeline prepared by the Four Seasons Hotel for the police states that the day before Lesin was found dead, the Secret Service asked for a hotel security officer to be placed outside his room from 1:45 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. so that Lesin “does not leave the room.”

Lesin was not a member of the Russian government at that time, so it is unclear why the US government’s elite security force — which protects the president, vice president, and foreign dignitaries — would have intervened to have him watched. Mason Brayman, a Secret Service spokesperson, did not respond to questions about why the Secret Service apparently offered guidance to hotel security but told BuzzFeed News that Lesin “has never been a protectee of the US Secret Service.”

Liliana Baldasssari, a spokesperson for the Four Seasons, told BuzzFeed News that hotel security contacted a Secret Service agent who was on site protecting a delegation due to arrive. "We did not want this guest wandering around the hotel causing problems when the delegation arrived," Baldasssari said. She declined to identify the delegation, citing privacy, but said once the delegation got to their rooms, the hotel security guard posted outside of Lesin's room was removed.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/p ... .wm1XVROVo
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby Sounder » Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:03 am

“I can think of many people interested in my father’s death,” she said. Asked by Bedford if she knew who these people were, she replied: “Yes, I think we all know.” The Russian government had wanted to silence her father, she said, and she believed they had succeeded. “He was saying that Putin was a danger to the whole world and you can see that now,” she said.



What? Berezovsky was the whole world? Putin was a danger to him, and for good reason.

Criminals often get whacked, should we care?
All these things will continue as long as coercion remains a central element of our mentality.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby DrEvil » Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:47 pm

^^Murder is just bad form, especially when done by governments or organized criminal groups. Of course we should fucking care.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby Sounder » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:09 am

^^Murder is just bad form, especially when done by governments or organized criminal groups. Of course we should fucking care.


Especially when done by governments or organized criminal groups? Murder is the basic mode of control.The US has special forces in 138 countries, and they are not deployed to shake hands, unless it is with locals willing to kill for them. Discrimination is called for here, and thank-you very much but I choose to care for the hapless civilians, yet somehow I have no care about some predator oligarch who was chosen for dispatch.

I care about the people of Donetsk and Luhanst who the Ukrainian defense minister called cockroaches that need to be gassed, and about the tripling of Nazi mercenaries that have joined the Azov battalion. These are our govt. sponsored killers operating at scale, something to 'care' about, not the killing of an oligarch, oddly used by' leftist' exceptionalists to foment ill will and what comes after. More killing by govts.; the best organized criminal groups.



From the color revolution thread...
Along with other snipers (some of them were Lithuanians) they were put under command of an American military operative Brian Christopher Boyenger
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby DrEvil » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:13 am

You know, caring that an oligarch is killed doesn't preclude one from caring that a civilian is killed. It's not a binary choice.
All murder is bad. It removes a human consciousness forever. No tap-backs.

Along with other snipers (some of them were Lithuanians) they were put under command of an American military operative Brian Christopher Boyenger


This story is questionable.
https://www.stopfake.org/en/fake-georgi ... nstrators/
(Ukrainian site dedicated to debunking Russian propaganda)

Koba Nergadze claims he was recruited into Saakashvili’s United National Movement, as proof he shows a party membership card filled with spelling mistakes, bearing the name of a nonexistent organization, the “Security service of defence”. All three of the alleged Georgian snipers talk about their American curator Brian Christopher Boyenger and claim their actions were coordinated by Mamuka Mamulashvili, a Saakashvili associate.


Micalessin uses video footage of a press conference featuring Mamulashvili and Brian Boyenger as implied proof of their participation in the shootings. He does not mention that the press conference took place on February 24, 2016 and was devoted to the Georgian National Legion and its role in the war in eastern Ukraine. Mamulashvili , the Legion commander says that he was not in Ukraine during the Maidan revolution. Boyenger said he was previously in Ukraine in 2015 to train volunteers.


The film is filled with inaccuracies in the timeline of the shootings that took place on February 20, 2014. It features a video uploaded to YouTube by Konstantin Piontkovsky filmed shortly after the killing of Maidan activist Volodymyr Melnychuk. Someone is heard asking, where were they shooting from, from the Ukraina hotel, someone answers. Security camera footage showed that Melnychuk was killed by fire from the Ukrainian National Bank building.


One of the Georgian snipers says they did not get direct orders to fire on anyone, another says such orders were issued, one says they stayed in a hotel in a southwestern area of Kyiv, another says they were based in a hotel on the Maidan. Two of the alleged snipers speak Georgian, the third speaks flawless Russian without any hint of a Georgian accent.


It's also worth noting that the Italian journalist was a member of Fronte della Gioventù, an Italian neo-fascist organization.

Edit: And from the BBC (I know, evil MSM. Don't trust. blahblahblah):
https://monitoring.bbc.co.uk/product/c1dnrgu6

Analysis: Doubts cast on Italian sniper claims about Ukraine's Maidan

Russia's main TV channels all marked last week's fourth anniversary of the start of Ukraine's Euromaidan protests by suggesting there was fresh evidence to support their claims that the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 was the result of a foreign-inspired plot.

The evidence was contained in a film aired a few days earlier on Italian TV, which featured three Georgians who said they were part of a group of foreign snipers paid to gun down protesters and police in Kiev and thus provoke Yanukovych's overthrow.

Italian TV also appeared to suggest that the film called into question the sanctions imposed on Russia over its intervention in Ukraine.

But BBC Monitoring has found evidence casting doubt on the veracity of one of the Italian film's key witnesses.

Georgian 'snipers'

The official Ukrainian version of the bloody culmination of the Euromaidan protests in Kiev on 20 February 2014 is that 48 activists were shot by members of the Berkut riot police force. According to a recent UN report, five former Berkut officers are currently in custody awaiting trial. No-one so far, though, has been convicted over the killings.

But right from the outset Russian state media has promoted theories suggesting that protesters and police killed during the demonstrations were victims of snipers under the control of Maidan leaders and their foreign backers.

In the run-up to the fourth anniversary of the start of the protests, these claims were given fresh impetus by a documentary by Italian film-maker Gian Micalessin. who is part of Gli Occhi della Guerra (The Eyes of War), a media outlet that specialises in the coverage of conflicts, including in east Ukraine (bit.ly/2zMvaCo).

Micalessin's film features testimony from three Georgian nationals who say they were brought to Kiev in the early part of 2014 to act as agents provocateurs. The men suggest they were sent to Ukraine on the orders of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, and also received instructions from an American sharpshooter.

Two of the men, named in the film as Koba Nergadze and Zalogi Kvaratskhelia, were interviewed by Micalessin in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia.

The third, captioned as Alexander Revazishvili, was interviewed in another eastern European country, which the filmmakers said they had been asked not to identify.

Revazishvili, like the other Georgians in the film, tells a dramatic story about his role in the tragic events in Kiev in February 2014.

"We were to provoke the Berkut riot police so that they would turn against the crowd and attack the people," he said in Russian with an Italian voice-over (http://bit.ly/2js9zHK).

On 20 February, he said, he was taken to the building of the Kiev Conservatory, a music academy near the scene of the Maidan protests, and were given guns by one of the protest leaders there.

"We were ordered to shoot down both the Berkut and the protesters indiscriminately. That was why I was dumbstruck and shocked," he told Micalessin.

Unreliable witness

Image
Revazishvili says this Russian TV report shows him on the Maidan in 2014

But there is reason to question whether Revazishvili is telling the truth.

In another part of the film, he refers to the time when he was living in Kiev with other Georgians who had come to join the Maidan protests.

He is shown looking at a smartphone displaying a Russian TV report about the Maidan protests.

"Yes, sure. That's me," he says. "This is the tent where we were living and this is me."

The film then shows a close-up of the smartphone screen, which features a man, his face partly obscured by a cap, drinking from a cup and smoking a cigarette.

From this footage, it is not possible to say definitively whether this man is Revazishvili or not.

The filmmakers do not identify the Russian TV report, but the blurred caption at the bottom of the smartphone screen appears to contain the words "Georgian mercenaries".

This is enough to track down the report via Google.

It turns out to be a report published by the pro-Kremlin TV station Life on 1 December 2016 that also features claims that Georgian snipers were responsible for the deaths at the Maidan protests in February 2014, though it does not name them (http://bit.ly/2n9VnII).

The report does not include any further footage of the man Revazishvili claims is him.

But the Life reporter, Semyon Pegov, indicates that the footage shown here and in Micalessin's film is part of another report which he had made when he was in Kiev covering the Maidan protests in 2014.

This report identifies the man with the obscured face as Giorgi Svaridze, a veteran of the war in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia in the early 1990s (http://bit.ly/2AFeDDH).

It also reveals that he looks nothing like Revazishvili.

Image
Giorgi Svaridze, the man in the Life TV report Revazishvili identifies as himself

Clearly, Revazishvili is an unreliable witness.

It also means that the only piece of corroborating evidence adduced by the film to place him in Kiev at the time of the Maidan protests turns out to be bogus.

It is, perhaps, significant that, while this section of the film is on Gli Occhi della Guerra's website and in the version of the film on its YouTube channel, it does not appear to have been included in the version shown on Italian TV (http://bit.ly/2j1ifWn).

Sanctions

In a post on Facebook, Saakashvili dismissed Micalessin's film as "Goebbels-like FSB propaganda" (http://bit.ly/2BjljUv).

Like other critics of it, he also drew attention to its connection to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a politician known for his friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Gli Occhi della Guerra is part of the the Il Giornale media group, which is controlled by the Berlusconi family.

Canale 5, the TV station that showed Micalessin's film, is part of Mediaset, whose largest stakeholder is another Berlusconi company.

It is also one of the country's most popular TV channels.

In introducing the film, the Canale 5 presenter stressed the relevance of the dramatic events in Ukraine for people in Europe today.

"We Europeans, our business people, are aware of this every day, and pay the price for the sanctions imposed on Russia at that time," he said.

Moscow will be no doubt be hoping that Micalessin's film increases the pressure for the sanctions to be eased or dropped.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby Sounder » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:28 pm

Thank-you for that Dr. Evil, the Italian job does seem somewhat fabricated now, good work.

Still, whoever killed those people were quite a bit more likely affiliated with the US 5 billion overthrow program, rather than with the then existing govt.

Like the guy with guns in his trunk, later holding high position in the coup formed govt.

And yes you can care for both, but when paired with old news Russia bashing, it will appear to some as if you care more about an oligarch than about the potential suffering of many that is the usual outcome of warmongering.

Oh and as a reminder; the System itself is the poison.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:06 pm

System itself is the poison
we all swallow our chosen poison don't we Sounder?



I'll swallow poison
Until I grow immune
I will scream my lungs out
'Til it fills this room



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es1mKyZDfFU


Oh, I will stand arms outstretched
Pretend I'm free to roam
Oh, I will make my way
Through one more day in hell

How much difference does it make?

I will hold the candle
'Til it burns up my arm
Oh, I'll keep takin' punches
Until their will grows tired

Oh, I will stare the sun down
Until my eyes go blind
Hey, I won't change direction
And I won't change my mind
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They could still get him out of office.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby DrEvil » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:58 pm

Sounder » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:28 pm wrote:Thank-you for that Dr. Evil, the Italian job does seem somewhat fabricated now, good work.

Still, whoever killed those people were quite a bit more likely affiliated with the US 5 billion overthrow program, rather than with the then existing govt.

Like the guy with guns in his trunk, later holding high position in the coup formed govt.

And yes you can care for both, but when paired with old news Russia bashing, it will appear to some as if you care more about an oligarch than about the potential suffering of many that is the usual outcome of warmongering.

Oh and as a reminder; the System itself is the poison.


The story smelled immediately tbh. Three different people all coming forward with full names to confess to multiple murders because they weren't paid the promised $5000 just didn't seem plausible. At all.

That doesn't mean that Saakashvili isn't a nutjob or that there weren't some seriously dodgy people involved in the Ukrainian revolution.
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Re: POISON IN THE SYSTEM

Postby Sounder » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:01 am

System itself is the poison
we all swallow our chosen poison don't we Sounder?


I was thinking more along the lines that the basic function of the mighty Wurlitzer is to maintain the position that if only this or that poison were to be removed, then the system would function properly. But the System depends on the production of enemies, such that the 'better' the System works the more problems are created for the average person.

It is another case of projection where the System identifies enemies, when the only real enemy is the System itself.
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