News / Europe

Berezovsky Latest in String of Russian Emigre Deaths in UK

FILE - Self-exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky leaves the High Court in London, March 10, 2010.
FILE - Self-exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky leaves the High Court in London, March 10, 2010.
Selah Hennessy
— British police say the death of a Russian tycoon outside of London on Saturday is "consistent with hanging" but that there is nothing to suggest a struggle preceded it. They say no "third party" appears to have been involved.  Boris Berezovsky's death follows a string of exiled Russians who have died in Britain.

Having played a major role in helping Vladimir Putin rise to power, Berezovsky came to Britain in 2000 after falling out with the Russian leader. In the ensuing years, he was an ardent critic of the Kremlin.

Berezovsky's body was found on Saturday afternoon by an employee, locked inside the bathroom of his home in Ascot, just outside of London.

More tests are yet to be carried out on the body, including toxicology and histology examinations, and police say the investigation at Berezovsky's home will continue for several days.

So far, the police report is consistent with initial suggestions that Berezovsky committed suicide.

Friends and observers paint a picture of a once vibrant man who had become downcast, having lost much of the power and prestige he won after the fall of the Soviet Union.  

Alexander Nekrasov, a former Kremlin advisor, says Berezovsky had become a broken man.

"He was under great stress, under great strain," said Nekrasov. "His financial affairs were in total disarray."

In 1997, Forbes magazine estimated Berezovsky's wealth at $3 billion.  He once had control of various Russian assets, including the country's main television channel, Channel One.

But after falling out with Putin, Berezovsky fled to Britain, where he was granted political asylum in 2003. His television assets and other holdings in Russia were seized.

In recent years he is believed to have been struggling financially. He lost more than $150 million in a 2011 divorce settlement and then had to pay legal fees worth tens of million of dollars after losing a $4.7 billion dollar damages claim against fellow Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, a former protege.

"He had enormous debts," said Alexander Nekrasov. "He did not really know how to raise money to repay them and I think he was thinking of leaving Britain for good."

But some of Berezovsky's friends believe the tycoon may not have taken his own life.

Nikolai Glushkov, a close friend of Berezovsky and a fellow Russian exile, has said he will "never believe" that his friend died naturally.

Berezovsky is not the first man from the former Soviet bloc to die in unclear circumstances in Britain in recent years.

Last year, Alexander Perepilichny, a whisteblower who exposed tax fraud and money laundering by Russian officials, died while jogging - his death is still unexplained.

Berezovsky's former business partner, the native Georgian Badri Patarkatsishvili, died suddenly in 2008. A post-mortem concluded he died of a heart attack, but some of Berezovsky's associates suggested foul play.

Most high-profile has been the death of Alexander Litvinenko, who died from radiation poisoning in 2006 after his tea was laced with polonium-201.

James Nixey from the London-based research group Chatham House says the deaths require thorough investigations.

"In the case of Russian exiles who are wanted by the Russian state, who the U.K. courts believe would not get a fair trial in Russia, who believes their lives would be in danger in Russia, requires in a way extra special attention, extra special care," said Nixey.

But he says it would be inappropriate to suggest that any state has been involved without more information.

"There is no evidential link between Berezovsky's death and Mr. Perepilichny, Mr. Patarkatsishvili, or even Mr. Litvineko," he said. "The fact of the matter is, as far as we can tell, this is a death by natural causes in that he [Berezovsky] took his own life."

British police carried out radioactive and chemical tests at Berezovsky's home on Sunday and found no substantial amount of radiation.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid