Boris Berezovsky, the Russian fugitive who allegedly died from hanging in his Berkshire home, was making extensive future plans, including writing to President Vladimir Putin seeking permission to return to Moscow, a girlfriend of the businessman has said.
Katerina Sabirova (23), a model, also revealed that Berezovsky (67) an ardent critic of the Kremlin, had caved in to Mr Putin, his long-running rival, in the hope of a homecoming. The oligarch had been due to meet his daughter Anastasiya on March 23, the day he died at his Ascot home, said Miss Sabirova, who planned to meet him two days later in Tel Aviv for a two-week trip.
"A week before, Boris called and said that we needed to meet, there was a lot to discuss," Miss Sabirova told Russia's 'New Times' magazine. "He said the only place we could meet quietly was Israel."
Mr Berezovsky's clothed body was found by his bodyguard on the floor of a bathroom at his home. A coroner's inquest, opened and adjourned last week, heard he had a ligature around his neck and a piece of similar material was attached to a shower rail above him.
Asked if she believed the businessman could have committed suicide, Miss Sabirova answered: "No. He was saying, 'Imagine, if I am no more. All problems will disappear'. But that wasn't a guide to action." She said Mr Berezovsky had been in low spirits for some time, but she had spoken to him on the evening before he died and he had sounded "better than usual".
Several friends of the businessman expressed disbelief last week when Mr Putin's spokesman claimed that Mr Berezovsky had recently written to the president "asking for forgiveness" for his mistakes and requesting the right to go back to Russia.
Unless a deal was struck, such a return would have almost certainly meant a long jail term for the former Kremlin insider, who fled to London in 2001 after being convicted of fraud in absentia by a Russian court.
But Miss Sabirova said the self-exiled tycoon had "wanted very much to return" to Russia and, after discussing his plan at length with his former partner, Elena Gorbunova, had sent a letter to Mr Putin in November. Little is known about Miss Sabirova, but she is listed on the website of the Troppiere Fashion agency in Moscow. She said that she and Mr Berezovsky first met in 2008. (© Daily Telegraph, London)