Nikolai Glushkov was preparing for legal proceedings over claims that he looted over $100 million from Aeroflot when he served as the airline’s Deputy Director for Finance in the mid-1990’s.
He had run out of money and was preparing to represent himself — until he was “strangled to death with a dog leash.” The Russian government has impugned the circumstances around his death, while the British government is investigating murder and notes that “a black van [was] seen near his home the night he was strangled.”
Had his trial proceeded he was prepared to testify that Aeroflot was the centerpiece of Russia’s clandestine services.
The airline, Ms. Litvinenko said her husband told her, was a centerpiece of the Russian spy services, which since Soviet days had used its global network of offices and air routes to provide payroll for its agents around the world, as well as shipping clandestine cargoes. “Aeroflot was the center of it all,” she said—an allegation that Mr. Glushkov also intended to air in court.
Spies. Credit: Aeroflot
In the mid-1990’s “About 3,500 of [Aeroflot]’s 15,000 employees worked undercover for one of the branches of Russian intelligence services, he said.”
When Glishkov sought to gain control of revenue from ticket sales for the airline, he ran head on into security services chiefs who had been diverting the funds for their own projects,
In his office, he said, he received calls daily over a special telephone installed for talking with security-service chiefs. One of them, Alexander Korzhakov, a former KGB general and President Yeltsin’s bodyguard said he would “screw my head off” and “put me in jail…if I continued to violate the rights of the FSB,” Mr. Glushkov said in his witness statement.
The airline says,
Aeroflot “is not today, nor was it ever, a ‘paymaster for Russia’s security services.’ ”
Whether or not it is today may be up for discussion, but there’s little question that the airline was an instrument of the country’s security apparatus during the Soviet era.
Aeroflot ad from 1970