Inquest Set in Hanging Death of Fallen Jewish Tycoon Boris Berezovsky

Some Doubt Reports of Suicide in English Mansion

getty images

By Reuters

Published March 27, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Britain opens a judicial inquiry into the death of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky on Thursday to establish how he died in the locked bathroom of his vast mansion near London.

Berezovsky, who survived years of intrigue, power struggles and assassination attempts in Russia, was found dead on Saturday in his home in Ascot, a town close to Queen Elizabeth’s Windsor Castle.

Police said there was no sign of a struggle and the 67-year-old’s death was “consistent with hanging”, suggesting he might have killed himself.

Berezovsky was the king-maker behind Vladimir Putin’s ascent to power in Russia but later became his number-one enemy and fled to Britain in 2000.

Berezovsky’s associates have hinted he was depressed after losing a $6 billion court case against another tycoon, Roman Abramovich, last year, when a judge humiliated him publicly by saying he was an unimpressive and unreliable witness.

Other people close to him have said they were not convinced by the official account.

“If he really hanged himself why was that not known from the very beginning?” said Andrei Sidelnikov, an opposition figure who knew Berezovsky. “I don’t believe it was a suicide.”

In Russia, state media quoted Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev as saying the government would continue efforts to “bring back assets that Berezovsky and his accomplices acquired criminally and legalised abroad”.

Mass-circulation tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, which supports the Kremlin, ran a front page headline on Wednesday that read: “Did Berezovsky hang himself or did he have help?”

The inquest will open in the town of Windsor on Thursday.

A master of political manipulation, Berezovsky had been known as the “godfather of the Kremlin” and wielded immense influence during a decade that followed the Soviet collapse.

Once a mathematician with Nobel Prize aspirations, he built a massive business empire under former President Boris Yeltsin and was the first of Russia’s so-called oligarchs.

He then became one of the first victims of a ruthless political crackdown of the early Putin era after falling out with his protege.

Once in exile, Berezovsky often said he feared for his life, particularly after the fatal poisoning of his friend and former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko with a dose of the radioactive isotope polonium-210 in London in 2006.

Another friend and business partner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, also died in unclear circumstances two years later.

For many, Berezovsky personified the decade of wild capitalism, chaos and violence that followed the Soviet fall. He left a trail of enemies in Russia and beyond, and no doubt once featured on many a hit list.

Berezovsky survived an assassination attempt in 1994 when a bomb exploded in his car, decapitating his driver.

In his final months he led a much less extravagant life, apparently bitter and broken and rarely seen in public.

He suffered another blow in 2011 when he was forced to pay one of Britain’s biggest divorce settlements to his former wife Galina. Media reported the settlement topped $100 million.

“My father was not the typical parent, nothing about him was ordinary,” said his daughter Anastasia in a tribute. “He has coloured my life in infinite ways, and I know that what he concerned himself most with was making all his children proud.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.