Sunday, March 24, 2013
Jewish Oligarch Boris Berezovsky Death 'Unexplained'
Police said Sunday that officers specially trained in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials have given the scene the "all clear."
Berezovsky – who had survived a number of assassination attempts – amassed a fortune through oil and automobiles during Russia's chaotic privatization of state assets following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
In recent years, Berezovsky fended off legal attacks that often bore political undertones – and others that bit into his fortune.
Russia repeatedly sought to extradite on Berezovksy on a wide variety of criminal charges, and the tycoon vehemently rejected allegations over the years that he was linked to several deaths, including that of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya and ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.
Berezovsky won a libel case in 2010 against a Kremlin-owned broadcaster that aired a show in which it was suggested he was behind the poisoning of Litvinenko, who had fled Russia with Berezovsky's help after accusing officials there of plotting to assassinate political opponents.
He took a hit with his divorce from Galina Besharova in 2010, paying what was at the time Britain's largest divorce settlement. The figure beat a previous record of 48 million pounds ($73.1) and was estimated as high as 100 million pounds, though the exact figure was never confirmed.
Last year, Berezovsky lost a multibillion-pound High Court case against fellow Russian Roman Abramovich and was ordered to pay 35 million pounds ($53.3 million) in legal costs.
Berezovsky had claimed that Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, cheated him out of his stakes in the oil group Sibneft, arguing that he blackmailed him into selling the stakes vastly beneath their true worth after he lost Putin's good graces.
But a judge threw out the case in August, ruling that Berezovsky was a dishonest and unreliable witness, and rejected Berezovsky's claims that he was threatened by Putin and Alexander Voloshin, a Putin ally, to coerce him to sell his Sibneft stake.
It also recently emerged that Berezovsky ran up legal bills totaling more than 250,000 pounds in just two months of a case against his former partner, Elena Gorbunova, with whom he had two children and who claimed the businessman owed her millions.
News of Berezovsky's death has prompted conspiracy theories along with speculation as to his state of mind, given his recent financial setbacks.
"I had absolutely, idealistically imagined that it was possible to build a democratic Russia. And idealistically imagined what democracy was in the center of Europe. I underestimated the inertia of Russia and greatly overestimated the West. This took place gradually. I changed my understanding of Russia's path," he quoted Berezovsky as having said.