A wealthy Russian lawmaker with enigmatic ties to the UK has been discovered dead.
According to information that was leaked in 2019, Nikolay Bortsov had gained the right to reside in Britain covertly.
Despite seeming to be a devoted supporter of Vladimir Putin, he reportedly obtained “indefinite leave to remain” status as a resident of the UK.
The oligarch was discovered dead at his residence in the Lipetsk region on Sunday. He belonged to United Russia, the biggest pro-Putin group.
No cause of death was given for the 77-year-old, who made his fortune as the boss of a soft drinks company which he later sold a majority share of to PepsiCo.
As one of Mr Putin’s wealthiest deputies, he was reportedly worth £450 million and included in the Forbes list of Russia’s richest businessmen from 2011 to 2021.
Mr Bortsov is one of dozens of high-profile people connected to Putin to have died since the outbreak of the dictator’s war in Ukraine last year.
Many of those deaths have come in strange circumstances, including falls from windows, random shootings, helicopter crashes and mysterious ‘suicides’.
One Russian oligarch even died last year after ‘shamans’ reportedly gave him toad venom to cure his hangover – but his cause of death was recorded as a heart attack.
Another MP, Dzhasharbek Uzdenov, 56, is also reported to have died the same day as Mr Bortsov.
At the time of the leak of his alleged UK status in 2019, Mr Bortsov denied holding British citizenship and always maintained it wasn’t true.
But news outlet Argumenti Nedeli reported leaked data that put him on a list of top Russian officials who had been granted residency in the UK.
It led to calls in Moscow for him and other parliamentarians to be checked by the security services for their loyalty.
He was subsequently sanctioned by Britain, the US, EU and Ukraine over the war.
Ukraine sentenced him to 15 years in prison in absentia for recognising the independence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’.
Lipetsk region governor Igor Artamonov said: ‘We will remember Nikolay Bortsov as a patriot of his country, always ready to help those who need it, a man who did not stand aside.’
Mr Artamonov did not provide any details about Mr Bortsov’s cause of death.