A Russian who escaped his country after surviving three Putin-backed assassination attempts has spoken out on the dramatic ordeals and his continuing fear of for his life.
Igor Sychev, 46, has most recently been warned of a murder “by poison to make it look like suicide, or a freak fall to make it look like an accident” – British police are investigating a supposed kill order from Putin’s comrades.
He fled Russia after bringing a case against his former employers PhosAgro – one of Europe’s largest suppliers of phosphate-based fertilisers – when they allegedly failed to pay him properly.
Three assassination attempts on Russian soil was enough for the father of two, who then came to Britain using a fake passport stored at the British Embassy – leaving his wife and two children behind.
For two decades, Sychev helped settle high-profile tax disputes for PhosAgro: “I did my part of the work perfectly and I was supposed to receive a reward of one per cent of the shares.”
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When, he claims, PhosAgro didn’t pay as agreed, Sychev launched a court case against them in the UK. While the case dragged on, Sychev survived three separate car crashes in Moscow, all nearly fatal.
“[In each car crash] a wheel fell off and the brakes were turned off and two out of three cars were just in pieces,” Igor told the Sun.
Igor claimed Russian investigators opened a criminal investigation after confirming the Jeeps were deliberately tampered with before the crashes. He said they staged them as car accidents, and “it was a pure miracle that I survived,” he said.
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However, the investigation was not fruitful for Sychev: “Shortly after [the investigation was opened], the case vanished without any documentary traces,” he said.
His house was then raided by Russian authorities who brought a criminal case against him – “fabricated” according to Igor. His passport was stolen and he was told he’d be arrested in eight days. He claimed PhosAgro ordered him to bribe Russian police with £3million and to drop the case against them.
At this point, Igor decided to cut his losses in Russia and secretly fled to Britain, using the secret passport. He claimed he made a “fool” out of them and was their “number one enemy”.
Igor has since handed over recordings of alleged threats from PhosAgro’s representatives to British police. He claims: “You can be killed today or tomorrow,” was the content of one, while another said: “You will lose your wife and children. Why do you need this war?”
One email allegedly described the possibility of “poison” or a “freak fall”, confirming “they must finish the mission as soon as possible”.
A spokesperson for PhosAgro described the allegations as ‘wild and unsubstantiated’. “His latest attempt in contacting you is yet another desperate example of his doomed attempts to extract monies out of PhosAgro,” they told The Sun.
Sychev wants to finish the fight against PhosAgro but admits their reputation damages might make them even keener to kill him off – “I just want justice”.
Despite leaving his wife and children behind, he “wouldn’t return until Putin’s reign had ended”.
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