How come you are still alive British detectives' chilling question to Russian whistleblower heightens fears that his fellow dissident was murdered
02:06 GMT, 9 December 2012
Claims about the detectives' questioning were made in the blog by dissident Valery Morozov, pictured
Police investigating the death of a Russian whistleblower have raised fears over the safety of another Russian who fled to Britain after falling out with President Putin’s government.
The body of 44-year-old Alexander Perepilichny was found outside his home in Weybridge, Surrey, last month. He had been helping Swiss prosecutors in a money-laundering case involving Russian officials, provoking suspicion an ‘invisible’ poison may have been used to kill him.
Now, fellow dissident Valery Morozov, who was granted political asylum in Britain after exposing an alleged corruption scandal in Russia, has claimed detectives investigating the Perepilichny case asked him whether he believed his own life was in danger.
Surrey Police initially thought that Mr Perepilichny’s death was not suspicious, but concerns he may have been killed have mounted since a second post-mortem examination proved inconclusive. Toxicology tests are expected to take several weeks.
The claims about the detectives’ line of questioning, which appeared in Mr Morozov’s Russian blog, suggest that police suspect Mr Perepilichny may have been murdered.
Mr Morozov, who was granted asylum in Britain in April after exposing a bribery racket involving contracts for the 2014 Winter Olympics, writes: ‘I need to be concentrated and calm, but something keeps happening all the time . . . like Perepilichny’s body was found. So I have to both write about it, and meet British policemen and answer their questions.’
Mr Perepilichny came to Britain three years ago after allegedly falling out with members of a criminal syndicate. He later passed information to Swiss prosecutors that implicated senior police officers and state officials in a tax fraud that was exposed earlier by lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Mr Magnitsky died in Moscow police custody in 2009 after being beaten and denied medical treatment. Last week the US Senate passed legislation that allows Washington to deny visas to and freeze the assets of Russian officials thought to be involved in Mr Magnitsky’s death. These officials are known as the ‘Magnitsky List’.
The body of Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, a wealthy businessman, was found at his home in Weybridge, Surrey, pictured
Mr Morozov, a wealthy construction boss, described Perepilichny as ‘a main informer on Magnitsky’s case’ and said ‘half’ of the team now in the Magnitsky List was involved in the investigation of his bribery allegations. He wrote: ‘It was the same policemen that arrested and jailed Magnitsky that now cover the bureaucrats and get bribes from them, as well as act as cover for various tax affairs.’
He added: ‘This is why I have to be answering various [police] questions: what do you know about Perepilichny’s death Why are Magnitsky and Perepilichny dead – and you are alive Do you consider your life to be in danger I answer them. But they ask again – what about on a ten-point scale, where is the risk I say, five.’
In his blog, Mr Morozov also expressed concern Russians posing as opposition activists could gain refuge in Britain and thus pose a threat to genuine asylum-seekers. He says he told police officers he had handed over compromising material on Kremlin and other senior Russian officials to the Home Office.
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday last night, Mr Morozov said he could not disclose details of his conversation with Surrey Police, but confirmed officers asked him about his safety.
Surrey Police declined to comment on Mr Morozov’s claims, while confirming they are still treating Mr Perepilichny’s death as unexplained.