Another Kremlin enemy dies: Exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky found dead in bath at Berkshire house after 'losing all his millions'
Boris Berezovsky, 67, is 'found dead in a bath' at an Ascot homeExile 'suffered depression over financial woes and harassment from Russia'Survived assassination attempts, including bomb that decapitated his driver
Russian tycoon was former Kremlin insider who became its fierce criticHad reportedly 'lost all his millions' after expensive court cases
Anna Edwards and Robert Verkaik
17:41 GMT, 23 March 2013
03:22 GMT, 24 March 2013
Boris Berezovsky, the British-based Russian oligarch who was one of Vladimir Putin’s fiercest opponents, was found dead at his home yesterday.
The exiled 67-year-old tycoon, reported to be ‘found in his bath’ by his bodyguard at his estate in Ascot, Berkshire, was to be a key witness in the inquest of murdered spy Alexander Litvinenko.
Family and friends said the tycoon had been suffering from depression over harassment from the Russian state and had been contemplating suicide.
He had survived a number of assassination attempts after falling out with Russian president Putin, including a bomb that decapitated his chauffeur in 1994. And last year he lost a court battle with fellow oligarch and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, which cost him more than 130 million.
Russian exile Boris Berezovsky has been found dead at his home in Surrey, aged 67
Last night Lord Tim Bell, spokesman for Mr Berezovsky, said that the tycoon had been very depressed for the last few months.
‘One of the reasons was his financial
troubles, but he was worried about harassment by Russia and felt
weighed down by the enormous amount of legal stuff,’ said Lord Bell.
‘They had been pursuing him over his
ownership of Aeroflot and [Russian car manufacturer] AvtoVAZ as well as
his interests in Brazil and other parts of the world.’
The exile was found dead after the ambulance service was called by a member of the public who was worried about the businessman's welfare.
Thames Valley Police last night said 'Specially trained officers are currently at the scene, including CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defence) trained officers, who are conducting a number of searches as a precaution.'
Mr Berezovsky arrived in Britain a
billionaire in 2000, but a series of protracted and hugely expensive
court cases chipped away at his fortune.
Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned, was a close associate of the Russian tycoon
Lawyer Alexander Dobrovinsky who knew
Mr Berezovsky said: ‘Recently he was in a dreadful, horrendous state;
covered in debt, almost broke, he was selling paintings and anything
Berezovsky sued his one-time friend
and fellow oligarch Abramovich for 3.3 billion last year, but the High
Court case ended in defeat and he was branded ‘unreliable’ and
In August 2012, Mr Berezovsky sued and accused Mr Abramovich of blackmail, breach of trust and breach of contract.
said the billionaire Russian businessman had 'intimidated' him into
selling shares in a Russian oil company at a fraction of their value and
broken a promise made during a deal relating to a Russian aluminium
Gloster dismissed a series of claims by Mr Berezovsky – who wanted more
than 3billion damages from Abramovich – and the loss left Mr Berezovsky faced legal bills totalling tens of millions of pounds.
Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky built up
legal costs totalling more than 250,000 after becoming embroiled in a
case at the same court with his former partner, Elena Gorbunova
judge said Mr Berezovsky had been an 'unimpressive, and inherently
unreliable, witness' and had, at times, given evidence which was
'deliberately dishonest' and 'incredible'.
Last year he announced he was unable
to continue to fund Marina Litvinenko’s fees for a long-awaited inquest
into her husband’s death.
Earlier this month it was revealed
that Berezovsky had put some of his most treasured possessions up for
sale, including a 50,000 Andy Warhol portrait of Lenin, and his classic
In January it was disclosed Mr
Berezovsky’s former lover Elena Gorbunova, 43, had won a 200 million
freezing order on his assets after they separated last year.
Detectives have begun a probe into Mr Berezovsky's death – which is being treated as unexplained.
Police stand guard at a road block near to where it is believed Boris Berezovsky died in Ascot
The one-time Kremlin powerbroker fell out with Putin and sought political asylum in Britain in the early 2000
'Thames Valley Police has launched an
investigation into the death of a 67-year-old man at a property in
Ascot, Berkshire,' said a police spokesman.
'His death is currently being treated as unexplained and a full inquiry is under way.
'The area around the property has been cordoned off to allow the investigation to take place.
'The inquiry is at a very early stage and more details will be released when available.'
A spokesman from South Central Ambulance Service confirmed that Mr Berezovsky was found dead at the scene this afternoon.
'We were called at 3.18pm to day by a caller concerned about the welfare of a gentleman at an address in Ascot.
'We sent a number of ambulance officers and one ambulance to the address.
Former friends and Russian tycoons Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky had a bitter court case, which allegedly cost the exile millions of pounds
Mr Berezovsky's claims against Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich were dismissed in court
'The 67-year-old man was confirmed dead at the scene.
'The death is being treated as unexplained and is being investigated by police.'
It had initially been reported that the
businessman died in a mansion in Surrey, but later reports confirmed
that he had been found in an Ascot property.
The ambulance trust spokesman said that
she was unable to give the exact address where Mr Berezovsky's body was
found – but confirmed that it had been in Ascot.
He had owned a property on the desirable Wentworth Park Estate in Egham, Surrey.
friend of Berezovsky said last night that his family was 'devastated',
adding that she did not believe his death to be suspicious.
Sasha Nerozina told Sky News: 'It is shocking, terrible news. It is not something you expect. He was full of life and love.'
businessman had been left 'demoralised' by losing his high-profile
legal battle with Abramovich, as he had expected to win, she added.
Berezovsky was 'looking forward to adventures to come' and was so busy
with work that he hardly slept, according to Ms Nerozina.
'Boris cannot be dead – it is almost incredible to put those words together,' she said. 'We expected him to outlive us all.'
While he had feared for his life in the past, he had no such worries in his final months, said Ms Nerozina.
'There is nothing to be suspicious about, as far as I understand', she told Sky News.
Berezovsky accused the owner of Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich, of forcing him to sell his shares in the TV company ORT, oil company Sibneft and Russian Aluminium for lower than their market value
RUSSIAN DEATHS ON UK SOIL
There have been a number of high-profile Russians who have suddenly died on UK soil.
A Russian businessman linked as a witness to a high-profile corruption scandal was found dead near his home in Weybridge in November last year.
Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, collapsed on a road and toxicology reports into his death proved inconclusive.
Reports connected Perepilichnyy to Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for London-based Hermitage Capital Management, who died on remand in a Moscow prison after allegedly uncovering a web of corruption involving Russian tax officials.
Perepilichnyy had allegedly been giving evidence to Swiss investigators about Russian fraud involving Swiss-based bank accounts.
A Russian businessman was gunned down in broad daylight in April last year outside London’s Canary Wharf when a hitman sprayed him with bullets.
One theory is that the businessman was shot because he knew too much about a 2009 gun attack on a Russian banker in Moscow.
Before these two deaths came the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer, in 2006.
Litvinenko had fled to Britain with evidence that gangs linked to Russia's leadership were plotting the murder of Boris Berezovsky, an oligarch who had fallen out with President Vladimir Putin.
He fell ill after meeting a KGB officer and his associate at the Millennium Hotel in London's Grosvenor Square.
The exiled Russian had previously won a libel case over claims he was behind the murder of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.
Born in Moscow in 1946 into a
Russian-Jewish family, his first career was as a mathematician. But in
little more than a decade he transformed himself from a Soviet maths
professor and systems analyst earning the equivalent of 12 a month into
a multi-billionaire. His first fortune came from importing Mercedes
cars into Russia in the Nineties.
By the mid-1990s he was one of the
oligarchs who gained control of the country’s industrial crown jewels at
knock-down prices in rigged privatisations, following the collapse of
As well as taking ownership of the
Sibneft oil company, he became the biggest shareholder in the country’s
main television channel, ORT, which he turned into a propaganda vehicle
for Boris Yeltsin in the run-up to the 1996 presidential election.
Described by critics as the epitome of
Russian ‘robber capitalism’, Berezovsky denied having ever taken part
in the violence that tainted Russian business during those lawless
He was at the height of his power in the later Yeltsin years, becoming a privileged member of the Kremlin’s inner circle.
Despite assisting Putin’s rise to
power, the two men fell out spectacularly and in 2000 Berezovsky left
Russia for self-imposed exile in Britain.
Berezovsky clashed with Putinover the new president's plans for constitutional reform.
Putin also seized control of the
Russian oligarch's media company, and said he would not longer accept
criticism from the media station, which had openly attacked him.
Beerezovsky made a number of claims and criticisms about the Kremlin,
incurring the wrath of the new president, and left Russia in 2000 in a
After gaining asylum in Britain, he relentlessly campaigned to expose Putin's alleged 'misdeeds'. In his absence, he was convicted in a 2007 trial in Russia of embezzling 4.5m from Russian airline Aeroflot, and found guilty in 2009 of defrauding car manufacturer AvtoVAZ of 1.2m.
He branded the trials a 'farce'.
Who was Berezovsky Russian tycoon has fought a number of high…
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