A Russian who was murdered in the UK last March believed two men from Moscow had tried to poison him five years earlier, it has been reported.
Nikolai Glushkov was found apparently strangled in his home in south-west London a week after the Novichok poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury.
The Guardian has now revealed he was allegedly poisoned in 2013 after he shared champagne with two Russians.
The paper says the police are reinvestigating the incident.
Mr Glushkov – a prominent Russian businessman and former deputy director of state airline Aeroflot – was jailed for five years in his home country in 1999 after being charged with money laundering and fraud.
After being given a suspended sentence for another count of fraud in 2006, he was granted political asylum in the UK in 2010 and became a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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Paramedic Keith Carr told the Guardian that he treated Mr Glushkov in November 2013 for suspected poisoning after the businessman had shared drinks with two men from Moscow in Bristol’s Grand Hotel.
Mr Carr, who was working for the South Western Ambulance Service, said he responded to a report that Mr Glushkov had collapsed on the carpet the morning after the drinks.
He told the paper: “I found Nikolai on the floor of his hotel room. He was able to stand up with help. He looked a bit tottery. We sat him on the bed.
“I asked him what had happened. He told me that he and the two Russians had been drinking the champagne together the previous evening. He went off to the loo and when he came back he drank more champagne.
“The next thing he remembered was waking up on the carpet the next morning. He had carpet burns on his face and on his chest.”
Mr Glushkov told Mr Carr that he believed the Russians had poisoned him and that he was a likely target because of his close friendship with fellow Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky, who came to the UK in 1999 after falling out with Mr Putin.
Mr Berezovsky was found hanged in the bathroom of his Berkshire home in 2013, six months before the incident with Mr Glushkov.
Mr Carr said two police officers were in the room while he treated Mr Glushkov for an abnormal heart rhythm and other symptoms, but, he added: “At the time I don’t think anybody gave any credibility to what he was saying.”
Avon and Somerset Police has confirmed the incident was investigated at the time and no charges were brought.
The Guardian reported that the officers are now reinvestigating the incident as part of their murder inquiry.
The news comes days after Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service named two Russian nationals as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the men, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are thought to be officers from Russia’s military intelligence service.
Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in March.
Det Sgt Nick Bailey also fell ill after responding to the incident in Salisbury.
Police are linking the attack to a separate Novichok poisoning on 30 June, when Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley became unwell at a house in Amesbury, about eight miles from Salisbury.
Ms Sturgess died in hospital on 8 July. Mr Rowley was discharged from hospital on 20 July.