Police who found the body of the ex-wife of a jailed Russian senator after breaking into her £10million home, have insisted her death is not being treated as suspicious.
Officers were flagged down on the Kensington street in London where Irina Izmestieva, 52, lived after being contacted by a worried friend on Friday night.
They had to get in through a basement window where they found Ms Izmestieva – also known as Irina Ford – dead on her sofa.
Her former husband Igor – sentenced to life in a high security Russian jail over contract killings 13 years ago – has now been informed she has died.
While police are not treating the death as suspicious, the coroner is considering opening an investigation.
Mother-of-two Ms Izmestieva, who came to the UK in around 2007 and became part of high society, was pictured at an event with Prince Harry in 2012, along with her daughters.
Vladimir Putin had promised a leading human rights campaigner he would pardon and free Mr Izmestieva but has not as yet.
This latest development in the family has prompted calls from one exile for an investigation to be launched into her death.
A number of Russians have died in suspicious circumstances or faced attacks in Britain.
A leading exile in London Evgeny Chichvarkin said today ‘I very much hope that the UK’s special services will investigate this case properly, thoroughly, and, perhaps, one day we’ll learn what happened.
Irina Izmestieva , 52 – also known as Irina Ford – was discovered dead on the sofa by friends
Mother-of-two Ms Izmestieva was pictured at a sporting event with Prince Harry in 2012
Ms Izmestieva’s former husband Igor has been sentenced to life in a high security Russian jail
Irina Izmestieva, 52, smiles at an event where she went on to speak briefly with Prince Harry
‘In the past few years Irina Izmestieva was an active participant of a property dispute details of which I have no right to disclose.
‘At another turn of this dispute she was found dead.’
Close friend in London, Miranda Mirianishvili, 49, posted on Instagram that former filmmaker Ms Izmestieva had died ‘unexpectedly’.
She said: ‘She was coughing, they said, taking antibiotics, and had not felt well for a few days. Not Covid,
‘They found her sleeping on the couch at their home in London.
‘That is, they found her no longer alive.’
London Ambulance Service attended, confirming to MailOnline: ‘We were called at 7.11pm on November 12 to reports of an incident at a residential address in Cottesmore Gardens, W8.
‘We sent an ambulance crew and two medics in cars. Sadly, a person died at the scene.’
Izmestieva had been pictured at an event with Prince Harry in 2012, along with her daughters by the jailed ex-senator, who represented oil-rich Bashkortostan.
Mirianishvili added: ‘Please pray for the newly departed Irina, a wonderful mother to her twin girls, a sister, and daughter, a heroic wife, a faithful, magnificent friend of mine.
‘Few in the world are as bright, loyal, strong, and beautiful.
‘Ira (Irina) was always there when she felt that she could help, without words or requests she did exactly what was needed.’
Chichvarkin – a mobile phone magnate before setting up a wine business in exile in London said Izmestyev had been close to Putin but became embroiled in murky business and politics.
Ms Izmestieva had been coughing before she died but had not contracted Covid, friends said
She had been active and healthy and her sudden death has both shocked and baffled friends
Ms Izmestieva, had come to the UK in around 2007, and can be seen here at Stonehenge
Friends have been devastated by the news and some have called for an imvestigation
Evgeny Chichvarkin said today ‘I very much hope that the UK’s special services will investigate this case properly, thoroughly, and, perhaps, one day we’ll learn what happened.’
Who is Irina’s ex-husband Igor Izmestieva?
Irina Izmestiev’s ex husband Igor served as a senator from Bashkortostan for five years from 2001.
He also had a long history working in the oil business, where he made his fortune.
But in 2007 he was detained by Russian Federal Security Service at Bishkek airport.
They said they suspected him of murdering the wife of one of his former business partners.
Three years later he was sentenced to life in prison.
The court heard he had organised a series of killings, including an attempt on then Bashkortostani President Murtaza Rakhimov’s son.
Inside the courtroom investigators said he had ties to the mafia in Kingisepp, outside St. Petersberg.
In 2017 Putin visited Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a human rights movement, to celebrate her birthday and said he would pardon and free Izmestiev.
So far he has not been freed and has been kept behind bars under high security.
‘At the beginning of 2005 Putin presented him with a gold metronome,’ he said.
But gang members testified that he had been linked to ordering ‘multiple assassinations’.
Izmestyev fled to London but was lured to Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, on the pretext of a business trip, capital of Kyrgyzstan, where he was detained in a clandestine FSB operation, and flown to Russia.
He had taken his fortune out of Russia and a dispute over this may have stopped his release from jail, it is claimed.
He had been convicted of leading a gang that committed killings soon after the collapse of the USSR.
Investigators linked him to two ‘terrorist attacks’ and 14 murders, and five attempted murders.
A video of him appeared from inside high-security White Swan prison in Perm region.
In 2018, the highly respected head of the Moscow Helsinki Human Rights Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, indicated that Putin had signalled he would pardon Izmestyev.
A spokesman for the Met said: ‘Passing police officers were flagged down at around 7pm on Friday, 12 November by a woman concerned for the welfare of an occupant at a residential address in Cottesmore Gardens W8.
‘Officers gained entry through a basement window and found a woman unresponsive. LAS attended and the woman, aged in her 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene. Next of kin are aware.
‘The death is not being treated as suspicious. The Coroner has been informed.’