World | Business

Police: Berezovsky's Death 'Consistent With Hanging'

NPR | March 26, 2013 9:39 a.m.

Contributed By:

Scott Neuman

Boris Berezovsky outside a London court in August.

Boris Berezovsky outside a London court in August.

Getty Images, Warrick Page

Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian tycoon whose body was found at his U.K. home over the weekend, died from hanging in an apparent suicide, British authorities now say.

“The results of the postmortem examination, carried out by a Home Office pathologist, have found the cause of death is consistent with hanging,” the Thames Valley Police said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that there were no signs of a violent struggle.

The conclusion, which points to suicide, may put to rest intense speculation that Berezovsky, 67, was the victim of a Kremlin-inspired assassination plot. Pathologists still have toxicology and histology tests to perform before making a final report.

The one-time billionaire and erstwhile powerbroker in Moscow was found dead lying on the floor of a bathroom at his home in Ascot on Saturday. Family and friends who found him said there was no sign of blood and that a scarf was lying next to his body.

He was instrumental in promoting Vladimir Putin to the Russian leadership, but after Putin became president, Berezovsky soured on him and sought to expose his alleged misdeeds. The oligarch eventually left Russia and was granted asylum in Britain in 2003.

His death prompted immediate comparisons to the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer who was friends with Berezovsky. Litvinenko, also a British √©migr√© and vocal opponent of Putin, was poisoned with radioactive polonium.

But there were also strong hints that Berezovsky may have been driven to take his own life after losing $5.6 billion in a legal dispute with fellow Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich last year. A news report last week, just days before his death, said Berezovsky was trying to sell his art collection to pay his creditors.

And in an interview with Forbes magazine less than 24 hours before his death, Berezovsky sounded a note of resignation, saying “there is no point in my life. … I’m 67 years old, and I don’t know what I should do from now on.”

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