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!
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • 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.