Alexander Perepilichnyy: Lover appears at Russian’s inquest

Alexander Perepilichnyy
Image caption The inquest is looking at whether Alexander Perepilichnyy died of natural causes or was unlawfully killed

A Russian whistleblower who died in mysterious circumstances seemed nervous the day before his death, his secret lover has told an inquest.

Elmira Medynska also said Alexander Perepilichnyy was sick on their last night in Paris a day before he collapsed near his Surrey home.

An inquest is trying to decide if he died of natural causes or was murdered.

The Old Bailey also heard that no traces of several poisons were found in his system.

Coroner Nicholas Hilliard QC has already heard no plant toxins were found in the whistleblower following claims he had been poisoned.

Image copyrightJulia Quenzler
Image caption Elmira Medynska (pictured next to a French lawyer) appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Paris

Ms Medynska, a 28-year-old Ukrainian fashion designer, said Mr Perepilichnyy, 44, contacted her through a dating website in March 2012.

She said he used a false name and she did not know he was married with children until reading media reports after his death in November of that year.

The couple first met in Kiev in May 2012 with Ms Medynska saying he made a “very good impression as a nice and educated man”.

They met again in Nice in June before their two-night “romantic holiday” to Paris on 8 November 2012.

Ms Medynska, who spoke to the court via video link from Paris, said he appeared “very stressed” about his work and was “on another planet” when they went shopping to buy her a Prada bag and Louboutin shoes.

Image copyrightElmira Medynska/Instagram
Image caption Elmira Medynska was contacted by Alexander Perepilichnyy on a dating website

The night before his death they went to Buddha Bar, a luxury restaurant in Paris, where he took the best seat at the table so he could see around the room, the coroner was told.

He also sent back a dish believed to be either tempura prawns or vegetables which he said tasted bad.

When they returned to their five-star hotel, Mr Perepilichnyy locked himself in the bathroom for about an hour and Ms Medysnak said she heard him vomit three times.

The next morning he seemed in a “good mood” and had a “good appetite” for their breakfast before they went to the airport to return home, him to Weybridge and her to Kiev.

Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Alexander Perepilichnyy was found lying in the road near his home in Weybridge

Ms Medynska said he seemed happy when they parted and was already planning their next trip to Switzerland in December.

Unbeknown to her, later on 10 November 2012, Mr Perepilichnyy collapsed and died while out jogging near his home in Weybridge.

Two days later she received a phone call from a British number from someone purporting to be the emergency services telling her Mr Perepilichnyy had been in a “car accident” and asking her what her relationship was to him.

She got another phone call the following day but her questions about how and where he was were not answered, she said.

Mr Medynska heard no more about her Russian lover until New Year’s Eve 2012 when she read on the internet that he had died.

‘You will die soon’

Those media reports also detailed his involvement in exposing a $230m (£150m) money-laundering scheme in Russia and suggestions he may have been murdered.

She said the reports about him “scared” her because she had only known a “very nice person” but “in fact I knew nothing about this man”.

Ms Medynska said she also received an email from Mr Perepilichnyy’s address after his death saying she would “die soon from Aids”.

Peter Skelton, counsel to the coroner, asked if the email could have been sent by Mr Perepilichnyy’s widow.

She said: “Maybe. I don’t know.”

The inquest also heard from Dr Stuart Black who had tested Mr Perepilichnyy’s hair and urine for traces of heavy metal poisons, such as arsenic, or anion poisons, like cyanide.

He said the tests showed Mr Perepilichnyy “was not poisoned” with anything from either group.

The inquest continues.

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