12:42 GMT13 August 2020
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    A Russian businessman living near London died of natural causes, an inquest in London has ruled. UK media reports originally suggested he had been poisoned with gelsemium elegans, a toxin known as "heartbreak grass".

    Alexander Perepilichny, 44, collapsed in November 2012 while jogging near his mansion in Weybridge, Surrey.

    On Wednesday, December 19, the Coroner, Mr. Justice Nicholas Hilliard QC, ruled he had died of natural causes — namely sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) — and said he found no evidence Perepilichnyy was poisoned or murdered.

    "I am satisfied that Mr Perepilichny was unlikely to have been poisoned. I'm satisfied that I can properly and safely conclude that it is more likely than not he had died of natural causes, namely SADS," ruled Judge Hilliard.

    The inquest, which has been dragging on for years, heard Perepilichnyy was involved with a company called Hermitage Capital Management, who claimed to be the victims of a $240 million tax fraud in Russia. Hermitage was run by William Browder, a US investor who the inquest heard had been accused in Russia of being a CIA agent. 

    Was Perepilichnyy Working for MI6?

    Judge Hilliard refused to make public whether or not he had received confirmation from the British government about Perepilichnny having any contacts with MI5 or MI6.

    Perepilichny, who moved to Britain in 2009, left behind a wife and also a secret Ukrainian lover, Elmira Medynska, who had been with him in Paris only hours before he died.

    The Hotel Bristol in Paris, where Alexander Perepilichnyy stayed the night before he died
    © AFP 2020 /
    The Hotel Bristol in Paris, where Alexander Perepilichnyy stayed the night before he died

    Miss Medynska said she met Mr. Perepilichnyy in March 2012, when she was 23, through a dating website but had no idea the 44-year-old was married or had children.

    She said he vomited violently after eating bad food only hours before flying back to London.

    Miss Medynska said she received three mysterious phone calls from someone with an English accent after Perepilicihnyy died. 

    'No Evidence of Third Party Involvement'

    Perepilichny's death was not initially treated as suspicious.

    "We accept that some organisational failings were made in the early stages. But no evidence of any third party involvement in Mr. Perepilichny's death was found," said Detective Chief Superintendent John Boshier from Surrey Police afterwards.

    Mr. Browder said he was not satisfied with Judge Hilliard's verdict and claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin "is going to be celebrating today."

    "I'm going to push for some kind of parliamentary investigation," added Mr. Browder.


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    sudden, poisoning, death, MI6, MI5, Bill Browder, Vladimir Putin, Alexander Perepilichnyy, Paris, Surrey
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