Exiled Russian Tycoon Boris Berezovsky Dead
March 23, 2013
Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian tycoon and long-time Kremlin critic, has died in Britain at the age of 67.
The circumstances of his death remain unknown. British police said in a statement they had launched a 'full inquiry' into what they described as 'the unexplained death' of a 67-year-old man at a property near London.
British media reported that Berezovsky was found dead in his bath, at his home outside London.
Berezovsky was the most prominent of a group of powerful Russian businessmen known as the oligarchs who grew rich from the privatization of state assets following the collapse of Soviet communism.
Berezovsky made his fortune in the early 1990s by selling cars. He then moved into oil, buying the Sibneft oil company and he also built a media empire. He survived several assassination attempts including one that decapitated his driver in the early 1990s.
Berezovsky was a Kremlin insider under former Russian President Boris Yeltsin whose reelection he supported in 1996.
He helped current Russian President Vladimir Putin's rise to succeed Yeltsin in 2000.
But when Putin moved to curb the political powers of the oligarchs, Berezovsky left Russia for self-imposed exile in Britain, where he was granted political asylum in 2003.
From London, he became one of Putin's most outspoken critics. The harsh words he used in a 2007 interview were typical of his rhetoric from exile.
'Putin's Russia is very dangerous for democracy, not only inside of Russia, but also outside of Russia. It means that Russia is very dangerous for the West and I think the sooner the West recognizes that Russia is not an ally, that Russia is not a partner -- I mean Putin's Russia -- this will help the West more quickly find the tools to protect themselves,' Berezovsky said.
Berezovsky was a wanted man in Russia where he had been convicted and sentenced to jail in absentia on embezzlement charges.
Last year, he lost a bitter and expensive legal battle in London against fellow Russian tycoon and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.
Berezovsky's wealth is thought to have considerably diminished in recent years.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state television on March 23 that Berezovsky had recenty asked Putin for 'forgiveness for his mistakes' and for help to return to Russia.
Peskov said that 'some time ago, maybe a couple of months ago' Berezovsky had sent Putin a letter. He said he did not know how Putin had reacted to Berezovsky's letter.
He said Putin 'had been informed' of Berezovsky's death.
Based on reporting by Interfax, RT, BBC, and telegraph.co.uk
Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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