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Berezovsky death probe: LIVE UPDATES

Published time: March 23, 2013 21:28
Edited time: March 25, 2013 23:15
Boris Berezovsky (RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)

Boris Berezovsky (RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)

Russia's self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky was reportedly found dead in a bathtub at his house near London, on Saturday, aged 67. Thames Valley Police have launched an investigation into the cause of his death.

22:45 GMT: Results of Berezovsky's post-mortem examination show his death to be "consistent with hanging," British police said Monday night.

18:51 GMT: It is expected a conclusion to the investigation actions will take a few more days. Meanwhile, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office may reclaim the foreign assets of Boris Berezovsky. The tycoon had been accused of several major economic crimes, for which the Russian criminal code reserves the right to confiscate assets.

12:16 GMT:Berezovsky’s autopsy results will be available as soon as Tuesday, FederalPress reported.

11:00 GMT: Boris Berezovsky was reportedly paranoid about security because of several previous attempts on his life. He surrounded himself with highest levels of security available and his bodyguards included ex-members of the Israeli secret service Mossad, The Sun reported. When the tycoon traveled outside the UK, his guards were often armed. For years he avoided public airlines and only used a private jet.

10:20 GMT: Berezovsky's former wife, Galina Besharova, told Nikolay Glushkov, one of Berezovsky's oldest friends, that she arrived to the house when a paramedic was still on the scene and saw a scarf near the body of the deceased. "Boris was strangled. Either he did it himself or with the help of someone. [But] I don't believe it was suicide. This was not just a normal death," Glushkov told The Guardian.

10:00 GMT: Thames Valley Police Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Brown noted that “it would be wrong to speculate on the cause of death until the postmortem has been carried out. We do not have any evidence at this stage to suggest third-party involvement.”

March 25

16:51 GMT:  Police also explained why chemical and radiation investigators were summoned to the scene:

"On leaving the property the personal electronic dosimeter (PED) of the paramedic was triggered. This is a health and safety device used extensively by the emergency services. As a result of this, specialist CBRN officers were asked to confirm that the scene was safe and clear to work in, which they subsequently did."

16:50 GMT: An employee of Berezovsky’s, working either a servant or a security man, hadn’t seen the tycoon since late Friday, police say. He was the only one at home at the moment of Berezovsky’s death.

"The employee said that he forced open the bathroom door which was locked from the inside and discovered the body of Mr Berezovsky on the floor. The paramedic who attended the scene declared life extinct," Thames Valley Police department said in a statement.

16:15 GMT: British police say there is no evidence to suggest third-party involvement in the sudden death of Boris Berezovsky. Police refuse to speculate on the cause of death until an autopsy is completed.

13:15 GMT: Political analyst and Russian State Duma MP Vyacheslav Nikonov believes Berezovsky may have not been bankrupt, but just pretending. He indeed lost a lot of money in a court action against another Russian magnate, Roman Abramovich, as well as to ex-wives, nevertheless Berezovsky “was always in the gray zone, at best. I don’t think that anyone has any idea about the real state of Berezovsky’s finance,” Nikonov told RT.

Watch RT’s full interview with Vyacheslav Nikonov

Video: /files/news/1e/73/d0/00/original_315278_nikonov.mxf.flv

12:05 GMT: Police are to release more information on Berezovsky at 13:00 GMT. A post mortem will not take place today, RT London Bureau reports.

11:35 GMT: Chemical and radiation investigators give the scene of Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky's death the all clear, according to Thames Valley Police.

A picture shows part of the house of Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky in Sunningdale, Berkshire, southwest of London, on March 24, 2013. (AFP Photo/Leon Neal)

11:00 GMT: Berezovsky’s relatives are sure his death was from natural causes, according to Interfax.

Video: /files/news/1e/73/d0/00/original_bereza.asf

10:45 GMT: Moscow may consider holding Boris Berezovsky’s funeral in Russia, should the relevant address be received, President Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti. Speaking of the deceased tycoon, Peskov pointed out that he used to be a significant political figure in the 1990s, but he “wouldn’t overestimate his role in the 2000s, it’s minimal.” The press secretary also indicated that Berezovsky was “definitely Putin’s opponent, not only in politics, but in other dimensions as well.”

March 24

02:00 GMT: A friend of Mr. Berezovsky, Sasha Nerozina, has said she finds nothing suspicious in his death, in a conversation with Sky News. "There is nothing to be suspicious about, as far as I understand...he was demoralized", said Nerozina, referring to his high-profile court battle against oligarch and former business partner Roman Abramovich.

01:00 GMT: Journalist Ben Aris, who has been interviewing Berezovsky on and off for 15 years, believes that suicide may not be a surprising conclusion to make, given the vast differences between doing business in the UK and Russia: "he was finding it very difficult to adapt business-wise to working out of Russia. British banks finding out that it was his money they were holding would often close and cancel him. The whole model of being connected and pulling strings inside the Kremlin in order to make money just doesn't work in London...so his business was sliding backward slowly...he just gave up his office since he had this court order slapped, [which] froze $200 million of his money. So the suicide speculation makes sense as, clearly, it wasn't going well."

Video: /files/news/1e/73/d0/00/original_aris_grab_on_berezovsky_mar_24.asf

00:23 GMT: Specially trained officers - including Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear specialists (CBRN) - are at the scene. CBRN is conducting tests and precautionary searches in order to enable a further investigation into the death.The Thames Valley Police have cordoned off the property at Mill Lane, Ascot, where the body was discovered, according to an official statement. The body is still on-site at this time.

A police van blocks a road near the house of Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky in Sunningdale, Berkshire, southwest of London, on March 23, 2013. (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

11:30 GMT: "I see no point in living", Boris Berezovsky said mere hours before his death in what was to be an off-the-record interview to Forbes (published posthumously). He reportedly did not look well and was in very low spirits, trying to avoid talking about business and politics. The interview had been scheduled for the previous day, but Berezovsky complained of falling ill with a cold. In the course of the interview, he said that even while in the UK, he had started having a burning desire to return to Russia - perhaps even to once again pursue science (he had degrees in Electronics and Mathematics).

11:15 GMT: Take a look at the highs and lows of the controversial man once considered to be among the most powerful Russians in recent history.

Video: /files/news/1e/73/d0/00/original_anissa_live_on_berezovsky_12am_mar_24.asf

20:32 GMT: Commenting on the news from London, President Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that recently Berezovsky had been in personal contact, asking the president for forgiveness for his “mistakes” and permission to return “to [his] motherland”.

“Some time ago, maybe a couple of months ago, Berezovsky addressed Putin in a letter, written by him personally, in which he admitted he made a lot of mistakes and was asking for forgiveness and to help him to return to the motherland,” Peskov told Russia 24 channel.

In reference to that letter, political analyst Sergey Strokan of Russia's Komersant newspaper says that Berezovsky "probably tried to make a deal with Putin, thinking he could do it in the way it was done in the time of Yeltsin, in the 90s, when politics was done through such behind-the-scenes deals - unofficial understandings - between oligarchs and politicians. But it seems it didn't work because we had not seen Berezovsky come to Russia in recent weeks."

Strokan continued on the subject of Berezvosky's legacy: "He was one of the most bright and controversial figures in recent Russian history. I think [his] name is a trademark of Russian politics in the 90s, when we had official power of the president and PM and an unofficial power of the 'semi-bankirshina' (referring to bankers - Russian slang) who were very articulate in Boris Yeltsin's era and were running things in Russia. But this time, luckily, has gone forever."

20:30 GMT: Aleksandr Dobrovinksy, a famous lawyer and head of the Moscow-based 'The Alexander Dobrovinsky & Partners' law firm, is one of the first to confirm the death of Berezovsky, suggesting he could have committed suicide.

Speaking to RT he said: “Two people called me around 8pm saying Berezovsky had died. One told it was suicide, and the second person said he might have died of a heart attack. I previously heard from people close to Berezovsky that he was practically broke and utterly depressed. A person I know called me and said that Berezovsky even asked to borrow $ 5,000 for a ticket. He was also seriously ill.”

Video: /files/news/1e/73/d0/00/original_sara_live_on_berezovsky_12am_mar_24.asf

20:15 GMT: "Yes, he is dead. It was confirmed to me by his private lawyer this afternoon," Tim Bell, Berezovsky's spokesman to AFP by phone. He also confirms that Berezovsky's body had been discovered by his security guard.

20:05 GMT: RT's Sara Firth spoke to the Thames Valley Police, who declined to refer to the deceased as Boris Berezovsky before a full ID confirmation was made - expected later tonight. They also did not confirm or deny that the tycoon's body had been discovered in a bathtub.

20:00 GMT: Damian Kudryavtsev, the former CEO of Kommersant Publishing House and a family friend, announces that the businessman died of heart attack around 11 am GMT.

16:00 GMT: Berezovsky’s son-in-law Egor Schuppe posts a status on Facebook, giving no details regarding the nature of his death.

15:18 GMT: A call to the ambulance is made from the Berezovsky household in Ascot, Berkshire.