A ‘jealous’ wife has been jailed for murdering her Russian banker husband by spiking his mashed potato with rat poison.
Wealthy Ekaterina Puzikova, 28, was found guilty more than five years after her husband Dmitry’s mysterious death after being consumed with jealousy over his lover.
The mother used thallium, a heavy metallic chemical once used in rat poison, which can be radioactive and was favoured by KGB killers in the Cold War.
She has been jailed for nine years.
At the March 2012 meal where he received a deadly dose, her 29-year-old husband had complained to her that there were no potato dishes on the table.
When she brought some mashed potato, he scolded her because it tasted “bitter”.
One guest at the meal was paralysed and two others became ill, but they all survived.
Her husband’s secret lover, named as Olga M, said in evidence: “I had known Dmitry since 2008, when he got a job in our bank.
“We worked in the same room. We were lovers since September 2009.
“In January 2011, Dmitry Puzikov told me that he was going to get married.
“But soon after the wedding we continued seeing each other, once or twice a month.”
Prosecutors insisted mother-of-one Puzikova became jealous at her husband’s betrayal and killed him.
But defence claims that she had no way of obtaining thallium, a weakness of the prosecution case that earlier led to the ordering of further investigation before a retrial.
There were also claims that her husband was involved in money laundering for a drugs gang.
He reportedly had rivals in RosSelhozBank, where he was deputy head of the Samara branch, which was another possible motive for others to want him dead.
At the earlier court case, the widow had been sentenced to seven years in jail, but this was increased in the latest trial.
Her lawyer Andrey Karnomazov mocked the idea that thallium was the reason the potatoes tasted “bitter”.
“Science tells us that it does not have colour, taste or smell,” he said, adding that there was no trace of the highly toxic poison on the banker’s plate.
He vowed to appeal against the verdict, claiming it was “outrageous” and a miscarriage of justice.
“No thallium was found on the hands of Ekaterina Puzikova nor on the plate that she has served potatoes to her husband,” he said.
“The main amount of thallium was found on the clothes of Dmitry Puzikov’s cousin” – also called Dmitry, whose 27th birthday the group were celebrating.
“But there was no single word about this in the court ruling.”
The defence accused investigators of failing to probe other motives for the banker’s poisoning, alleging the widow had been “framed”, adding she did not benefit financially from his death.
Puzikova was handcuffed in the court room and led away by armed guards to begin her sentence.
KGB defector to Britain Oleg Gordievsky claimed that he was poisoned with thallium in a suspected Russian hit in 2007 which he blamed on by “rogue elements in Moscow”.
He spent 34 hours unconscious in hospital before recovering.
Soviet KGB defector Nikolai Khokhlov was the target of a thallium attack in Frankfurt in 1957.
Initially, the deadly poisoning of Kremlin enemy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 was blamed on thallium before British experts detected radioactive polonium-210.
There was also speculation that Alexander Perepilichnyy, a Russian businessman turned supergrass, who died while jogging near his home in St George’s Hill, Surrey, was killed by hard-to-trace thallium.