Exiled Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky's Death a Mystery

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
Boris Berezovsky found dead in Ascot mansion.Boris Berezovsky found dead in Ascot mansion.

Boris Berezovsky, long time critic of the Kremlin, died in his British mansion near Ascot on Saturday at age 67. The police said the death of the Russian oligarch is "currently being treated as unexplained." Radiation experts were called into to investigate the home and have since given it the all clear.

His lawyer, Alexander Dobrovinsky, told Russian television that Borezvosky committed suicide after suffering from depression for weeks due to a large debt, but another friend strongly denied those allegations.

Paramedicas were sent to his estate at 3:18 p.m. on Saturday and Berezovsky was pronounced dead at the scene.

There is no evidence currently that suggests anyone else was involved, according Thames Valley police.

"It would be wrong to speculate on the cause of death until the post mortem has been carried out. We do not have any evidence at this stage to suggest third party involvement," said Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Brown.

Boris Abramovich Berezovsky made a fortune in Russia in the 1990s out of the privatization of Russian state assets. He was also close with President Vladimir Putin before he took office, who turned on oligarchs when he came to power in 2000. Berezovsky fled to London claiming political asylum and becoming one of Putin’s biggest critics.

Berezovsky was one of a group of anti-Kremlin exiles in London. Former Russian secret service agent Alexander Litvinenko, who took asylum in London in 2000 after he told British intelligence that his superiors at the FSB ordered him and several others to assassinate Berezovsky, was killed by radioactive polonium poisoning in Nov. 2006.

"Berezovsky has been in a terrible state as of late. He was in debt. He felt destroyed," said Dobrovinsky. "He was forced to sell his paintings and other things."

In an interview with Forbes Russia the day before his death, Berezovsky said his life had lost “meaning.” 

Claims that he wrote to Vladimir Putin hoping to return to his homeland have been denied by his associates. A Putin spokesman told state television that Berezovsky wrote Putin saying he want to move back to Russia and asking "forgiveness for his mistakes."

Just months ago, Berezovsky lost a high-profile court case against fellow Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich, owner of the Chelsea football club. He accused Abramovich of blackmail, breach of trust, and breach of contract in relation to a Russian oil company. The loss proved personally disastrous for Berezovsky.

(AFPThe Guardian)