x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Russian oligarch Berezovsky died from hanging without a struggle, UK police say

The pathologist has found nothing to indicate a violent struggle, Thames Valley Police say.

LONDON // Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch who was found dead at his UK home on March 23, died from hanging with no evidence of a violent struggle, UK police said.

Berezovsky's cause of death "is consistent with hanging," Thames Valley Police said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. "The pathologist has found nothing to indicate a violent struggle."

The results of additional tests, including toxicology and histology examinations, won't be known for several weeks, according to the statement. The forensic examination of Berezovsky's home in Ascot will continue for several days, according to the statement.

Once a multibillionaire, Berezovsky, 67, faced mounting debt and last year lost one of the largest UK civil lawsuits ever filed to Roman Abramovich, the Russian owner of the Chelsea Football Club. Berezovsky, the judge said in his ruling in August, was "unimpressive and inherently unreliable."

Georgia Gibbs, a spokeswoman for Berezovsky, declined to comment yesterday on the police statement.

Berezovsky was found dead by an employee on March 23 in a bathroom in his home.

The employee said he called the ambulance service after becoming concerned for Berezovsky's welfare, having not seen him since about 10.30pm the previous night, police said in a statement on March 24. The employee said he forced open the bathroom door, which was locked from the inside, and discovered Berezovsky's body on the floor.

There is no evidence "at this stage to suggest any third- party involvement" in the death, which remains "unexplained," police said in the March 24 statement.

Berezovsky lived in self-imposed exile in the UK to avoid potential prosecution in Russia. Once a close patron of Russian power as a friend of Boris Yeltsin, he sparred publicly in recent years with President Vladimir Putin.

Berezovsky fled Russia for the U.K. in 2000 after backing Putin in his first presidential campaign. He was given political asylum three years later. Berezovsky said in a 2007 interview that he was worth $4 billion and that he was using a part of his fortune to finance "a revolution in Russia without blood." Forbes magazine dropped the tycoon from its rich list in 2010, after estimating his wealth at $1 billion the previous year.

During the Yeltsin era, Berezovsky built his political influence, serving as Security Council deputy secretary in 1996 to 1997 and as a lawmaker in 1999 to 2000. He gained holdings of companies including OAO Aeroflot, Russia's biggest airline, state-run television channel ORT and the Kommersant publishing house. He claimed stakes in OAO Sibneft, the oil producer now named OAO Gazprom Neft, and Russian Aluminum, now part of fellow billionaire Oleg Deripaska's United Co. Rusal.