- Two-mile safety cordon set up amid fears exiled tycoon had been murdered with radioactive poisoning
- Alert raised when a paramedic’s radiation alarm was triggered leaving the £20million property
- The estate in Ascot has been declared safe but death is being treated as ‘unexplained’
00:02, 25 March 2013
00:27, 25 March 2013
The mystery surrounding the death of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky deepened last night after radiation experts spent hours combing the Berkshire mansion where his body was found.
A two-mile safety cordon was set up amid fears the exiled tycoon had been murdered with radioactive poisoning.
The alert had been raised when a paramedic’s radiation alarm was triggered as he left the £20million property after failing to revive Mr Berezovsky, whose body was discovered by a bodyguard on the bathroom floor.
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Some friends said they believed Mr Berezovsky, pictured with his former girlfriend Elena Gorbunova, may have been the victim of a professional hit for speaking out against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s regime
The estate, in Ascot, was finally
declared safe after an exhaustive search by experts in chemical,
biological and nuclear emergencies.
Last night police said the death of
the 67-year-old tycoon was ‘unexplained’, with the cause still unknown. A
senior detective said he was keeping an ‘open mind’.
Mr Berezovsky was found dead on Saturday afternoon after the bodyguard had become concerned and smashed open the bathroom door.
Some friends said they believed Mr
Berezovsky may have been the victim of a professional hit for speaking
out against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Others thought he
had killed himself after becoming depressed over the loss of his wealth
Boris Berezovsky with his ex girlfriend Elena and two children Arina (eight) and Gleb (six). The exiled 67-year-old tycoon was found by his bodyguard at his estate in Ascot on Saturday
Police investigating the death of Mr Berezovsky (pictured here in 2003), one of Vladimir Putin’s fiercest opponents, said there is so far no evidence to suggest any third party involvement in his death
The controversial tycoon, who was once worth £3billion, was
to be a key witness at the inquest of murdered spy Alexander
Litvinenko, who was assassinated with radioactive poisoning in London
six years ago.
Historian Yuri Felshtinsky, who has
known Mr Berezovsky since 1998, said: ‘We do not have facts yet but we
must bear in mind that there have been several questionable deaths of
Russian emigres in the UK.
‘It is more plausible to me that [Berezovsky]
was killed as an act of revenge for speaking out against the Kremlin or
perhaps as a warning to others not to cross them.
Russian exile Boris Berezovsky has been found dead at his home in Surrey, aged 67
Police officers cordon off the road leading to the tycoon’s house near Ascot as they carry out investigations
‘It is possible to kill someone and
disguise it as natural causes. The FSB [the Russian security service]
have structures in place to kill people. For a long time the British
authorities believed Litvinenko was dying of some unknown disease. He
did not have a heart condition, appeared to be in good health.’
Mr Berezovsky was said to have been
‘destroyed’ after losing a £3billion legal action against his former
business partner, Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.
He sued his one-time protege last
year alleging that he had been intimidated into selling him shares in
Russian oil conglomerate Sibneft. The legal battle is thought to have
been the most expensive of all time, with Mr Berezovsky left with costs
as high as £100million.
Officers specially trained in nuclear materials are searching the house where the oligarch was found dead
He had faced a new legal battle
brought by his former girlfriend Elena Gorbunova, who had applied to the
High Court to freeze his reported £200million assets.
Last night former Tory spin doctor
Lord Bell, who was a friend, said Mr Berezovsky had lost all of his
money and had even sold the house in Ascot recently to pay off his
debts. He was understood to have sold properties on the French Riviera
and an Andy Warhol print, Red Lenin, for £133,875.
‘I’m very sad,’ Lord Bell said. ‘I’ve
lost a very great friend. He was depressed about his financial
situation, his legal situation and his private life. And he was very
badly battered by the judge’s comments in the case against Abramovich.’
But Lord Bell added: ‘I don’t happen to think that he was the kind of person who would commit suicide.’
Police and forensic teams descended today on the home of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky who was found dead in his multi-million pounds mansion, Titness Park in Ascot
Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear trained officers searched his multi-million pound home
The exiled 67-year-old tycoon nicknamed the ‘godfather of the Kremlin’, is reported to have been found by his bodyguard at his mansion
However, in an informal interview
with a Russian journalist on the night before he died, Mr Berezovsky
reportedly said: ‘My life no longer makes sense. I have no desire to
take part in politics. I don’t know what I should do. I am 67 years old
and I don’t know what I should do from now on.’
The journalist, Ilya
Zhegulev, claims the tycoon was desperate to return to Russia and hated
being in exile.
The Kremlin claimed yesterday that Mr
Berezovsky had written to Mr Putin several months ago to ask
forgiveness and seek a route back to Russia. Lord Bell said such a
suggestion was ‘nonsense’ and the oligarch remained as much as ever a
target of the Russian state.
Mr Berezovsky, a former mathematician
who had made his fortune in oil, aviation and television in the
immediate aftermath of the fall of communism, fled Russia in 2000 and
was put on the country’s official wanted list in 2001 on charges of
fraud and money laundering.
The UK granted him political asylum
in 2003 and he used London as a base from which to launch critical
attacks on Mr Putin and to call for his overthrow.
Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky built up
legal costs totalling more than £250,000 after becoming embroiled in a
case at the same court with his former partner, Elena Gorbunova
He had survived several assassination attempts in Russia, including a bomb that decapitated his chauffeur.
Yesterday Detective Chief Inspector
Brown, of Thames Valley Police, said: ‘We are at the early stages of the
investigation and we are retaining an open mind as we progress.
‘The investigation team are building a
picture of the last days of Mr Berezovsky’s life, speaking to close
friends and family to gain a better understanding of his state of mind.
‘We do not have any evidence at this stage to suggest third party involvement.’
Police stand guard at a road block near to where it is believed Boris Berezovsky died in Ascot
The one-time Kremlin powerbroker fell out with Putin and sought political asylum in Britain in the early 2000
Growing list of exiles who died in the UK
Was Boris Berezovsky poisoned by the Kremlin? Radiation alert as detectives … – Daily Mail
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