British police removed the body of exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky from his mansion near London on Monday before conducting an autopsy that could shed some light on his sudden unexplained death.
Once known as the grey cardinal of Kremlin politics, the former billionaire power broker helped Vladimir Putin come to power before fleeing in 2000 for Britain where he became one of the Russian government’s fiercest critics.
The 67-year-old Berezovsky’s body was found in the locked bathroom of his sprawling property west of London on Saturday. Police say it remains unclear how he had died.
Some of his associates have hinted Berezovsky may have killed himself because he had been severely depressed after losing a bruising $6 billion court battle last year against another Russian tycoon, Roman Abramovich.
On Monday, police carried out a forensic investigation at Berezovsky’s house in Ascot, an affluent town a few miles from Queen Elizabeth’s Windsor Castle. A post-mortem started at 1300 GMT.
“(Police) are carrying out further forensic examinations at the property and these are expected to last several days,” local police said in a statement. “We will not speculate on the cause of death until the post-mortem examination has been carried out.”
Earlier, detectives searched Berezovsky’s house for traces of radiation and chemicals but found none, and said there was no evidence anyone else was involved in his death.
One of the most powerful among Russia’s so-called oligarchs, Berezovsky was once known as the “godfather of the Kremlin” and exerted immense power in politics and business during a turbulent decade that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Always surrounded by controversy and conspiracy theories, Berezovsky survived several assassination attempts, including a bombing that decapitated his driver.