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Elmira Medynska says Perepilichnyy was stressed on day before death

A former Ukrainian model whose married Russian whistleblower lover died in mysterious circumstances told an inquest she received death threats from his email address three months after his body was found.

Elmira Medynska also told the hearing Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, was sick after they ate in a Parisian restaurant the night before he died.

Mr Perepilichnyy  was shaking and drinking a lot and seemed ‘somewhere else’, throughout the evening, the 28-year-old said.

After arriving back home the next day on November 10, 2012, Mr Perepilichnyy collapsed and died near his mansion in Weybridge, Surrey.

The Old Bailey heard his death came a month after winning a legal claim in Russia made by a firm linked to the alleged killer of Alexander Litvinkenko, Dmitry Kovtun.

Mr Perepilichnyy’s life insurance firm Legal and General (L&G) have suggested he may have been spiked with a deadly vegetable planted in his sorrel soup on the day he collapsed.

Ukranian model Elmira Medynska said she had been with Mr Perepilichnyy a day before his death and he seemed 'stressed and nervous'

Alexander Perepilichnyy, left, seemed ‘stressed and nervous’ on the day before his death in Novemeber 2012, according to Ukrainian model Elmira Medynska, right, who was with him in Paris

The 28-year-old fashion designer gave evidence at his Old Bailey inquest today via videolink, pictured

The 28-year-old fashion designer gave evidence at his Old Bailey inquest today via videolink, pictured

Buzzfeed also reported claims that the multi-millionaire businessman was likely assassinated on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But staff who discovered Mr Perepilichnyy’s body in his high-security estate saw nothing suspicious about his death, and paramedics said it looked like a ‘textbook cardiac arrest’. 

Giving evidence by videolink from Paris, Ukrainian fashion designer Miss Medynska, 28, said she met Mr Perepilichnyy through a dating agency and he paid for flights, smart hotels in Kiev, Nice and Paris, and meals together over eight months.

The inquest heard he changed hotels and used a false name, keeping the relationship ‘secret’. 

Miss Medynska, who has lived in Paris for three years, said their final tryst came on November 8, 2012 in the Hotel Bristol in the French capital.

She told the inquest she was then informed he had died ‘in a car accident’ and emailed him to see if it was true.

Miss Medynska said: ‘Three months after I received a message saying I was going to die soon from his mail box.’

Miss Medynska said she had written ‘I received a phone call from the hospital that you are in the hospital and that you were in a car accident’.

She told the inquest: ‘I said is it true. I said I am very worried about you, and can you reply please.

‘But I didn’t receive response for three months.’ 

During their Paris trip, they went shopping and he bought her a Prada bag and Louis Vuitton shoes.

Miss Medynska, 28, said they returned to their hotel where he ate two apples, and later went for dinner at the Buddha Bar.

He chose a seat where he could ‘see more of the people in the restaurant’, the inquest heard.

Peter Skelton QC, counsel to the inquest, asked: ‘Did you get the impression he wanted to see what was going on in the restaurant, and look around at the people there? Or did you think he was just being a bit selfish?’

She said: ‘He was looking for people around us.’

Mr Skelton went on: ‘Do you think he was worried about people in the restaurant?’

She replied: ‘I think he was a little bit stressed.

‘I didn’t understand the reason why he was stressed, because it was nearly all French people in the restaurants, very old people.

‘I was feeling very relaxed at this time. I didn’t understand why he was so stressed.’

Mr Perepilichnyy ordered tempura prawns or vegetables, but sent the food back after complaining about it, the inquest heard.

Miss Medynska said they drank 'more than usual' on the day before his death

The former model, pictured, added Mr Perepilichnyy was shaking while they had lunch

Miss Medynska, left and right, added Mr Perepilichnyy was shaking while they had lunch

She said: ‘He said that he didn’t like the taste. He was very irritated and mad about the quality of the food.’

The model claimed she did not see anything unusual about the other diners because they were sat behind her.

They returned to the hotel and Mr Perepilichnyy went straight to the bathroom, where she heard him vomit three times.

Describing when he came out, she said: ‘He was clean and a little bit red.

‘I was trying to speak with him to ask how he felt. He said that he felt better.’

But she did not ask him why he was sick because she did not want to make him feel ‘uncomfortable’.

He had ‘red eyes, red face’, and said he was ‘disappointed with the food in this restaurant’, the inquest was told.

The next day he felt better, and they had breakfast where he ‘looked very nice’ and was in a ‘good mood’.

Asked why he had seemed nervous during their Paris trip, she said: ‘I can only guess that maybe he had stress with his kind of business.’

She did not see any Russian guests in the hotel, she added.

After returning from Paris, she was told Mr Perepilichnyy was in a car accident, the inquest heard.

Her friends asked her ‘how is your boyfriend’, and she later searched for his name on Google and discovered he had died.

Miss Medynska said: ‘I was very scared because I understand the last person who saw him in person was me.’

The Russian whistleblower, pictured, collapsed and died near his Surrey mansion amid claims his soup was spiked with a deadly vegetable

Ms Medynska said the whistleblower seemed 'on another planet' the day before he died

The Russian whistleblower, left, collapsed and died near his Surrey mansion amid claims his soup was spiked with a deadly vegetable, a day after he left Ms Medynska in Paris

She said she had told two friends she was in a relationship with him.

The witness added: ‘Many things started to scare me, because i didn’t know that he was married, he had children, that he had business in Switzerland.

‘Like it was presented on the internet, so I was really scared about this person who I knew. And the fact I knew nothing about his life.

‘In 2013 I was contacted by British police to give information about his death.’

On his conduct during their dinner, Miss Medynska said: ‘He was smiling he was calm, he was relaxing. When we went for lunchtime he was a little bit nervous.

‘I think that he was nervous about his work or business. I didn’t ask him a question about if something had happened. He was very stressed when I met him.’

Asked if he drank a lot, she said: ‘Yes. I think we drank a lot for lunchtime.

‘He was more tired. He would drink more, more than usually.’

On if it was to do with his stress, she said: ‘In Paris it was my third meeting so I don’t know this person so well. Maybe he was.

‘He was a little bit more stressed.’

Ms Medynska told the inquest her lover seemed 'on another planet' the day before he died

Ms Medynska told the inquest her lover seemed ‘on another planet’ the day before he died

He did not take any phone calls during lunch, and spilt wine on himself, she said.

Describing how he was, Miss Medynska said: ‘A little bit shaking. His hands, yes.

‘I asked him, ‘Alexander do you feel good? Maybe you want to go to the hotel?’ He said ‘No, I want to continue, stay here with you’.’

They went back to the hotel where he felt better and ‘more relaxed’, and later went for dinner, the inquest heard.

Asked if he was stressed the next day, November 9, she said: ‘Sometimes I had the feeling he was somewhere else.

‘Because he wasn’t very communicative me, and my mood wasn’t so well.

‘We went for dinner in a very noisy restaurant so I didn’t have time to speak to him. His mood wasn’t very nice.

‘He was on another planet. He didn’t want to communicate so much to me and I was upset.’

She said they went shoe shopping but he sat looking at his telephone, adding: ‘So I was upset because he didn’t give enough attention.

‘I did want to ask him why he wasn’t happy.’

Miss Medynska said they first met in May 2012 in Kiev in a hotel when he flew out to see her.

She said: ‘He had a very good impression for me, as a nice educated man.’

Peter Skelton QC, counsel to the inquest, asked: ‘Did he seen nervous or stressed?’

She answered: ‘No, he was in a very good mood. And good shape.

‘I had dinner with him and he didn’t do much talk to me about his business, where he worked, what kind of business.’

He told her he previously worked in Moscow, but now lived in London.

She added: ‘He never told me any details or names of the company where he worked.’

But he never talked to her about his business problems, the inquest heard.

She went on: ‘He said that he moved because it was a more easy life for him in London.’

On what he meant by that, she said: ‘I didn’t ask him any extra questions like that because I know that for the moment a lot of Russians live in London so it was normal.’

He did not mention why he left Russia, she added.

Mr Perepilichinyy spent two days in Kiev and stayed in two hotels because he wanted to try a different one, but she did not get the impression he was moving ‘so that people might not know where he was’.

Miss Medynska, pictured, told an inquest she met Mr Perepilichnyy in May 2012 on a dating site and they had several meetings in Paris

Miss Medynska, pictured, told an inquest she met Mr Perepilichnyy in May 2012 on a dating site and they had several meetings in Paris

They kept in touch and he used different names, but he did not express concerns about work or his safety, the inquest heard.

On the names, she said: ‘It was secret for me too. I think that he wanted to have some privacy from me, and I didn’t ask him so much questions about that.’

They later spent a ‘relaxing’ three days in Nice, France in July or August 2012, where he seemed in a ‘quite good mood’.

He would go off and make phone calls during lunch and dinner, and during one call he seemed ‘very loud like he was screaming’, she said.

Miss Medynska added: ‘He was very nervous when he spoke on the telephone.

‘When he came back I said ‘Alexander, everything is fine?’ He said ‘yes, it’s just work.”

He never mentioned visiting Switzerland to talk to the Swiss authorities, she added, although he said he wanted to take her there in December.

In September he said he went to hospital but did not explain why, the inquest heard.

The fashion designer slammed media reports of the whistleblower’s death which she claimed scuppered a lucrative deal with high end fashion house Jimmy Choo after a senior partner broke things off amid fears she was linked to the Russian Mafia.

Ms Medynska confirmed she ‘did not notice any physical or psychological changes’ in Perepilichnyy between the Paris trips and their earlier trysts.

‘So you didn’t see, for example, that he had lost a significant amount of weight?’ asked Henrietta Hill QC on behalf of Hermitage.

‘No,’ replied Ms Medynska.

The inquest heard Perepilichnyy booked three other restaurants on the night he took the businesswoman to the Buddha Bar.

But Ms Medynska said they never went to any of the other places, adding that Perepilichnyy ‘already told’ her where they would be going in advance.

The barrister quizzed her about a statement she made to French police in which she told investigators ‘he was watching the stairs a lot, taking great interest in what was going on around him and he was not looking after me very much’.

Ms Medynska added that Perepilichnyy always had ‘at least two telephones with him’.

He also communicated with her for the first six months of their relationship under the name ‘Sergei’, the court heard.

During an interview with Buzzfeed last June, she told a reporter the whistleblower appeared ‘very stressed’ during the meal and ‘kept going outside to take mysterious phone calls that seemed to spook him’.

Ms Medynska confirmed the observation but added that she never personally heard what was said in any of the chats and never inquired into his businesses.

But she told the inquest she had been ‘lied to’ by the journalist who she ‘honestly thought’ was an officer connected to the investigation.

He was found dead not far from his mansion, pictured, in Weybridge, Surrey, on November 10, 2012

He was found dead not far from his mansion, pictured, in Weybridge, Surrey, on November 10, 2012

‘All these things I said to her in interview, it was what I read on the internet,’ she said.

‘All these articles was very damageable to my business. It wasn’t my words, it was words I read about him in the press.’

She told the inquest the articles cost her business a lucrative deal with luxury shoe designers Jimmy Choo after a British partner feared she was mixed with the Russian Mafia.

‘On 31 December 2012 I was reading articles about Alexander and his death on the internet and his name was linked to some other Russian guys that died in Great Britain and I was very scared of what I was reading, I was afraid,’ Ms Medynska explained.

She added that she was ‘afraid somebody could control me’ and was alarmed at ‘receiving this mail that I could die soon’.

‘I was in a good relationship with one British guy who is one of the main managers of Jimmy Choo and he was very interested in doing business with me as a partner but after this article he was afraid,’ the fashion designer said.

‘One of his friends said this guy really doesn’t like people from the Mafia and he thinks I am from the Mafia.’

Alluding repeatedly to ‘irresponsible reporting’ of the death, John Beggs QC for Perepilichnyy’s widow asked about Ms Medynska’s claim to Parisian police that there was not ‘the slightest anxiety expressed by Mr Perepilichnyy over those three separate meetings in three different venues’.

‘No, I never noticed that he was worried about anything,’ she confirmed.

‘In general he was always in a good mood.

‘I never really thought about it during my relationship with him because I was busy with work too.

‘The only thing he told me was that he had left Russia because he didn’t feel good there but I do not know more about it.’

She added that she had no recollection of any particular threats levelled at him.

The inquest continues.