Russian Oligarch Berezovsky, Putin Foe, Found Dead

   on March 23 2013 2:11 PM
Boris Berezovsky
Self-exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky was found dead at home in England Saturday. Reuters File Photo

Exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has been found dead at his home in England, his family reported Saturday.

The circumstances of the death of the 67-year-old “oligarch” -- a wanted man in Russia and an opponent of President Vladimir Putin -- are not yet known, the BBC reported.

The exiled Russian who was living in London died at his home in Surrey, a Facebook post from his son-in-law Egor Schuppe said, according to broadcaster Russia Today.

Schuppe said Berezovsky was depressed and had failed to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances.

Britain’s Evening Standard said the fallen tycoon was found dead in his bathtub, and that “initial reports suggest he committed suicide, though that is yet to be independently confirmed.”

As a precaution, however, police trained in the handling of biological, chemical and nuclear material were deployed in a search of Berezovsky's home hours after he was found dead, the Guardian reported.

The once-mighty Berezovsky, who was close to the late President Boris Yeltsin and found himself on the outs under Putin. emigrated to the UK in 2000. Russia has long sought to try him for money-laundering and other crimes.

Last year, he lost a £3 billion ($4.7 billion) suit against Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, the BBC reported.

Berezovsky said he had been bullied by Abramovich into selling shares in Russian oil giant Sibneft for a "fraction of their true worth." The allegations were  rejected by a London Commercial Court judge, who called Berozovsky an "inherently unreliable" witness.

Berezovsky had survived several assassination attempts, including a bomb that decapitated his chauffeur.

He helped Yeltsin’s political career and during the later Yeltsin years deputy secretary of Russia's security council. He also supported Putin's rise in the late 1990s, before the new president suppressed all independent power centers, including the oligarchs.

In recent years, his wealth is thought to have considerably diminished and costly court cases have left him struggling to pay debts.

Aleksandr Dobrovinksy, head of the Moscow-based Alexander Dobrovinsky & Partners law firm, claimed on his social network page that the 67-year-old former billionaire had killed himself, the Guardian reported. The statement read: "Just got a call from London. Boris Berezovsky committed suicide. He was a difficult man. A move of disparity? Impossible to live poor? A strike of blows? I am afraid no one will get to know now."

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