Byline: KEITH DOVKANTS
WHAT killed Badri Patarkatsishvili? As the police scour his home forclues and a pathologist conducts a post-mortem examination, conspiracytheorists will point to the company he kept on the day he died.
On Tuesday afternoon, hours before his death, Patarkatsishvili was with BorisBerezovsky at the law offices of Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general,in the City.
Berezovsky is at the centre of London-based opposition to Russian presidentVladimir Putin's government and on Tuesday he, Patarkatsishvili and theirfriend Yuli Dubov swore witness statements related to various cases in theformer Soviet Union involving seizure of assets and property rights.
Nikolai Glushkov, once Berezovsky's right-hand man, was also there.
Glushkov is the man whose story connects directly to the suspect Scotland Yardhas named in connection with the murder of former KGB agent AlexanderLitvinenko, Andrei Lugovoy.
When Berezovsky fled to London in 2000, Glushkov was arrested on charges offraud. He had been running Aeroflot, in which Berezovsky had a large stake.
Berezovsky believed Glushkov had been thrown into prison to put pressure onhim. Glushkov was ill and Berezovsky was afraid he would die in Lefortovo jail,where he was being held. The tycoon hatched a plan, from London, to spring hisfriend.
It involved an audacious scheme to spirit him away from the prison hospital andthe man chosen to carry it out was Berezovsky's trusted former head ofsecurity, the former KGB man Andrei Lugovoy.
The escape plot failed and Lugovoy was arrested. Glushkov was eventually freedand came to London, but Lugovoy remained in Moscow where he went on to prosperas head of a large drinks company.
He maintained links with his friends Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili. When hearranged a meeting in November 2006 with Litvinenko no one was suspicious.
But it was at this meeting, Scotland Yard believes, that Litvinenko was given afatal dose of radioactive Polonium 210, from which he died an agonising death.
Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili found it hard to believe the man they trustedwas the assassin. Patarkatsishvili never believed it. He remained on friendlyterms with Lugovoy until his death and spoke to him on the telephone a weekago.
Even if a post mortem reveals Patarkatsishvili died from a heart attack, ifthere is no evidence of long-term heart disease police inquiries are likely tocontinue. This is because a number of compounds known to be used by the formerKGB can induce heart failure, but leave virtually no trace. One is sodiumfluoroacetate, a fine white powder derived from pesticide.
It causes irregular heartbeat and breathing difficulties before a fatal heartattack. Patarkatsishvili had difficulty breathing a few hours before he diedand left a meeting to go outside for fresh air.
But Patarkatsishvili's sudden and sofar unexplained death raises a questionwas he too trusting? If Scotland Yard is right about Lugovoy, it suggests thatthe attempt to spring his former master's friend from jail may not have beenall it seemed.
Did he go through with itand the subsequent arrest and trialas a smokescreen to cover the fact he was really working for his old bosses atthe KGB? Lugovoy, with his access to first Berezovsky and latterlyPatarkatsishvili would have been a valuable asset in the silent war against theLondon-based exiles. He has always denied any wrongdoing, but Russia refuses toextradite him to stand trial in Britain for the Litvinenko murder.
Patarkatsishvili was the fourth musketeer in a band of men sworn to fightPutin. Dubov is the exuberant writer who wrote a novel based on Berezovsky'sexploits. It was made into a film, Tycoon, one of Russia's biggest box officesuccesses.
The band of London-based exiles has infuriated the Kremlin. So what are they upto? The answer is revolution. …