A jogger who collapsed and died in leafy Weybridge turns out to have been blowing the whistle on one of Russia’s biggest tax frauds. Mark Townsend reports on a crisis that has pitted the Kremlin against the US Senate and British police
Shortly after 5.15pm on 10 November 2012, a jogger turned into Granville Road, Weybridge, running along the hedge-lined street of one of Britain’s wealthiest enclaves. Then, 50m from his home, he staggered into the road and died.
In the days that followed, Surrey police believed they were dealing with a natural, if unusual, death. Four months on, the passing of 44-year-old Alexander Perepilichnyy still remains a mystery. Two post-mortems have proved inconclusive, but the outcome of what Surrey police promise is their “full range” of toxicology tests is imminent.
To piece together Perepilichnyy’s final years is to drill down into the core of Russian criminality, according to one account.
What we know of Perepilichnyy is slight. In another age he might have been a rocket scientist. Peers called him a “genius”, a Ukranian whiz-kid with an uncanny knack for numbers. His favourite waste of time was, they say, discussing the theories behind cosmogony and Kondratiev waves – the long-term cycles of capitalism. However by the time Perepilichnyy arrived to study at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology – famous for supplying the brains behind the Soviet space race – Russia’s lunar ambitions had curdled with the collapse of communism. Instead Perepilichnyy applied his talents to the world of finance and