Boris Berezovsky found dead at his home in London

23 March 2013 Last updated at 18:51

Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky found dead

The exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has been found dead at his home outside London.

The circumstances of the death of the 67-year-old – a wanted man in Russia, and an opponent of President Vladimir Putin – are not yet known.

A former Kremlin power-broker whose fortunes declined under Mr Putin, Mr Berezovsky emigrated to the UK in 2000.

Thames Valley Police said it was investigating the death of a 67-year-old man in Ascot, Berkshire.

Last year, Mr Berezovsky lost a £3bn ($4.7bn) damages claim against Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.

Mr Berezovsky claimed he had been intimidated by Mr Abramovich into selling shares in Russian oil giant Sibneft for a “fraction of their true worth”.

The allegations were completely rejected by the London Commercial Court judge, who called Mr Berozovsky an “inherently unreliable” witness.

BBC world affairs reporter Richard Galpin said sources have told him that Mr Berezovsky was depressed after the loss of the court case and was under financial pressure.

The tycoon’s wealth is thought to have considerably diminished in recent years, leaving him struggling to pay debts in the wake of costly court cases.
Diminished wealth

Mr Berezovsky had made his fortune in the 1990s selling imported Mercedes as well as Russian-made cars.

Later owning Sibneft and as primary shareholder in Russia’s main television channel, he supported Boris Yeltsin’s rise to power.

Mr Berezovsky survived numerous assassination attempts, including a bomb that decapitated his chauffeur.

During the later years of Yeltsin’s presidency, Mr Berezovsky was part of the leader’s inner circle as deputy secretary of Russia’s security council.

“Boris Berezovsky was one of the most powerful men in Russia back in the 1990s,” said the BBC’s Moscow correspondent, Steve Rosenberg.

“He rose from being a mathematician, a computer programmer and a used car salesman, to being such an influential figure in Boris Yeltsin’s Russia.”

He then played a role in Mr Putin’s rise in the late-1990s, before the new president moved to curb the political ambitions of Russia’s oligarchs.

Leaving Russia for self-imposed exile in the UK, Mr Berezovsky became one of Mr Putin’s fiercest critics.

But our correspondent said that on Saturday, a spokesman for Mr Putin said that Mr Berezovsky had sought the president’s permission to return to Russia.

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