Friday, December 2, 2016
Mystery over death of Putin ally's glamorous socialite daughter dubbed 'Russia's Lady Di' after BMW found in lake
A glamorous heiress dubbed 'Lady Di' by her pals has died aged just 19 after herspun off a road and crashed into a lake.
Diana Lebedeva - whose granddad is one of Vladimir Putin's most prominent business enemies - was killed in the horroron Thursday.
She was travelling in the BMW X6 with her friend in Switzerland when the vehicle crashed through a barrier and plunged into Lake Lugano.
Her body was later found at the bottom of the lake, along with the body of her pal and the car's wreckage, according to local reports.
Diana, who was known for her active life and fashion sense, was a leading member of the Moscow "golden youth" rich set.
Her grandfather, banker Platon Lebedev, was jailed for 11 years for tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement after two criminal cases.
The cases were widely seen in the West as politically motivated.
Diana's tragic friend, Azer Yagubov - the 23-year-old son of an Azerbaijani businessman - was reportedly driving the BMW at the time of the crash.
The luxury vehicle spun off the road and plunged into the lake, situated close to the village of Castagnola, at around 4am on Thursday.
The victims, both educated in Switzerland, were found dead at the bottom of the lake, according to reports in Switzerland and Russia.
The Russian embassy in Bern confirmed their deaths.
Tributes have since been pouring in online for Diana, who has been described as "one of the brightest stars among Moscow's golden youth".
One post reads: "Our girl, rest in peace."
Another says: "I do not believe that you are no more in the world... simply impossible to believe. She was my classmate."
Police are now investigating the cause of the crash, with a picture of the scene showing a crane removing the BMW from the lake.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the vehicle had been in a "race" when it got into trouble on a bridge above the lake in Canton Ticino.
However, this is yet to be proved or disproved.
Diana and Azer's bodies are to be flown back to Russia, it is reported
Lebedev, 59, was a close business associate of former billionaire and Putin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of Yukos oil company.
Khodorkovsky was also locked up by the Russian authorities.
The sentences sparked an outcry in the West.
Both men were named prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, which described their conviction as "deeply flawed and politically motivated".
Lebedev was jailed in July 2003 and released in January 2014, the month after Khodorkovsky had been pardoned by Putin.
Lebedev, born in Moscow, headed the currency and finance department of Khodorkovsky's Bank Menatep.
After the pair's release, former Yukos shareholders launched a $50 billion legal action for damages seized from them under Putin's rule.
Lebedev has four children.
Diana was one of three grandchildren, according to reports.