The ex-wife of a former senator and business mogul jailed in Russia for organising contract killings has been found dead in her £10million London home – sparking a call for MI5 to investigate.
Irina Izmestieva – also known as Irina Ford – was discovered lifeless on the sofa of her Kensington apartment on Friday by her shocked friends.
Mother-of-two Ms Izmestieva, had come to the UK in around 2007, and become part of high society and was pictured at an event with Prince Harry in 2012, along with her daughters.
Her former husband Igor had been sentenced to life in a high security Russian jail over contract killings 13 years ago.
Vladimir Putin had promised a leading human rights campaigner he would pardon and free him but has not as yet.
This latest development in the family today prompted calls from one exile for an investigation to be launched into her death.
A leading Russian 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.’
A number of Russian exiles have died in suspicious circumstances or faced attacks in Britain.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
‘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.