Death of an Oligarch: Russian Billionaire Berezovsky Dies "Penniless"

By:  William F. Jasper
Death of an Oligarch: Russian Billionaire Berezovsky Dies "Penniless"

Boris Berezovsky, who helped bring Putin to power, became a bitter foe and fled to England, fearing for his life. 

Boris Berezovsky (shown in photo), once considered the richest man in Russia and one of the wealthiest moguls in the world, was buried in Surrey, England on May 8 — near destitute and in exile. The body of the 67-year-old oligarch was discovered by his bodyguard on March 23 in the bathroom of his home. As Berezovsky had survived previous murder attempts and, according to former Russian FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko, had been targeted for assassination by the FSB (formerly known as the KGB), his death automatically sparked suspicions of foul play. A Bloomberg Businessweek report on April 4 stated:

Nikolay Glushkov, a longtime friend of Berezovsky and a fellow Russian exile, suspects foul play. “The idea that he would have taken his own life is bulls---,” Glushkov told the Guardian. “Berezovsky had a lot of powerful enemies,” says Mark Galeotti, a professor at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. One name that’s mentioned repeatedly is Putin’s.

Statements from the police thus far have supported a verdict that he died by suicide.

The Thames Valley Police reported on March 25:

The results of the post-mortem examination, carried out by a Home Office pathologist, have found the cause of death is consistent with hanging. The pathologist has found nothing to indicate a violent struggle.

Further tests will now be carried out, including toxicology and histology examinations, the results of which are likely to take several weeks.

The Daily Mail’s May 8 report on the Berezovsky funeral noted that the police investigation “remains underway,” and also noted that “Russia has denied its secret services targeted Berezovsky.”

Some news reports cited statements by friends that Berezovsky was depressed over his recent financial setbacks, which may have led him to suicide.

In 2011, Berezovsky was ordered by a British court to pay out, reportedly, over $155 million in a divorce settlement with Galina Besharova, one of his ex-wives. It was by far the largest divorce settlement in British history.

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Photo of Boris Berezovsky: AP Images

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