Exiled Russian tycoon Boris #Berezovsky is found dead at his home in Surrey, UK
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 23, 2013
The exiled Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky has died. He was found in his bathtub, a full investigation is under way.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. The News was First Broken by his son-in-law Egor Schuppe in a Facebook Post
2. Prominent Lawyer Aleksandr Dobrovinksy has Said That Berezovsky Committed Suicide
This is a point echoed by his son-in-law. According to Russia Today:
Berezovsky was recently depressed. He failed to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances, and often chose to stay at home rather than go out.
Lawyer Dobrovinsky said on his Facebook page:
Just got a call from London. Boris [Abramovich] 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…
3. Berezovsky was in the News This Week for Selling his Andy Warhol Portrait of Lenin
Despite being a billionaire, Berezovsky has massive legal debts stemming from 2012 law suit against fellow Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich (owner of Chelsea Soccer Club). The two were business partners in the 90s in Russia when Communism fell and money was to be made. But in 2012, Berezovsky launched a $5 billion suit against his former partner accusing him of a string of crimes, including breach of trust and blackmail. Boris lost the suit and has been forced to pay $60 million to cover Abramovich’s legal fees.
As a way of getting his hands on some quick cash to pay off his lawyers, Berezovsky was selling his 1987 Andy Warhol portrait of Russian socialist hero, Vladimir Lenin, known as Red Lenin. Boris was likely to get around $70,000 for the painting.
4. Berezovsky was in Exile from Russia
He had been exiled from Russia in the late 1990s when he was embroiled in a money laundering scandal involving Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot. In 2010, he was forced to pay back $52 million he was believed to have embezzled from the airline in 1999.
5. He had Been on Russia’s Most Wanted List Since 2001
Berezovsky was found guilty of a string of crimes in absentia, mainly regarding embezzlement from not only Aeroflot, but other state businesses such as Siberian Oil. He had spent much of the past decade avoiding Russian extradition requests.
6. He was a Constant Opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin
Strangely, Berezovsky was an earlier supporter of Putin’s rise to the presidency of Russia following the resignation of Boris Yeltsin in 1999. Boris soon became a public enemy in his homeland as his financial dealings became apparent. After his exile, Berezovsky has called word leaders, particularly British Prime Minister David Cameron, to put pressure on Putin regards Russia’s awful human rights record. Boris said about a meeting between Putin and Cameron:
The longer you speak with the gangster head of a country, the more victims there will be in the end, until these cannibals are erased from the story.
He had accused Putin of committing atrocities in Chechyna and of plotting against him.
7. He has Lived in the UK Since 2003 When he was Granted Political Refugee Status
Berezovsky was a resident in the affluent countryside area of Ascot in Berkshire. He also had numerous business interests, he had partnered with Neil Bush, brother of former US President George W. Bush.
The two were involved with the educational software company, Ignite! Along with several other billionaire investors from the middle-east and Russia.
Berezovksy was also linked to Prince Michael of Kent, the queen’s cousin. It was reported that he constantly gave cash gifts to the prince in order to be included in high society functions.
8. He was Known Friend of Alexander Litvinenko
The Russian dissident, who was assassinated via poisoning in London in 2006. To the extent that he was funding a legal bid for a further inquiry into Litvinenko’s death. In December 2012, Berezovsky said he could no longer afford to pay the legal costs. Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun were charged with Litvinenko’s murder, in absentia.
9. There Were Two Alleged Assassination Plots Against him in 2003 and 2007
It was Alexander Litvenko who claimed that a Russian hitman was in London to assassinate Berezovsky in 2003. This claim was discredited by the English government.
In 2007, a more substantial plot forced Berezovsky out of England and into hiding. Scotland Yard confirmed they arrested and deported someone, of Russian extraction, back to Russia, in connection with the attempted murder and that there was not enough evidence to hold him. The Russian government claimed no knowledge of this man, who was later claimed to be a Chechen mobster.
Berezovsky told the BBC around the time:
…someone who you know will come to Britain, he will try to connect to you and when you meet him, he will just kill you and will not try to hide
10. The Last Estimate of his Wealth $1.3 billion
Back in 1997, Forbes estimated that Berezovsky was worth $3 billion. Though The Sunday Times Rich List in 2012 had put his wealth at $1.3 billion. It’s likely at the time of his death that wealth was significantly reduced thanks to legal costs and a series of legal penalties put in place against him.