Friday 15 December 2017

No nuclear material found at home of Boris Berezovsky

Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky has died
Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky has died

James Edgar

RADIATION experts investigating the death of the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky have given his mansion the all clear.

The businessman was found dead at his Berkshire home yesterday by a bodyguard, and specialist officers in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear substances were examining the property.


Thames Valley Police said it was continuing to investigate the unexplained death of the 67-year-old.


Berezovsky, who last year lost a multibillion-pound High Court fight with Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, was reportedly found dead in his bath after taking his own life.


Scenes of crime officers continued a thorough investigation to determine the circumstances of his death once the CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) experts had examined the country pile as a precaution.


Police said they had relaxed the cordon around the property in Mill Lane in Ascot.


Superintendent Simon Bowden said: “In light of the findings of the specially trained officers who carried out the CBRN examination as a precaution, the majority of the cordon which was put around the perimeter of the property has now been lifted.


“One small road block remains in Mill Lane outside the entrance to the property's grounds. The roads in the area are open and traffic is flowing freely.


“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the residents in the area for their patience in the initial stages of the investigation and apologise for any inconvenience which may have been caused by the cordon.


“However we needed to ensure that all precautions were taken prior to entering the property. I am pleased to say the CBRN officers found nothing of concern in the property and we are now progressing the investigation as normal.”


The former mathematics professor was part of Boris Yeltsin's inner circle in the latter years of his presidency, and became deputy secretary of Russia's security council.


He acquired his fortune in the 1990s after the privatisation of state assets following the collapse of Soviet Communism.


Berezovsky emigrated to the UK in 2000 after falling out with President Vladimir Putin.


In fear of his life, he sought political asylum and moved to the South East of England, buying upmarket properties in Knightsbridge, London, and Berkshire.


The businessman survived a number of assassination attempts, including a bomb in his car that decapitated his chauffeur.


He became a vocal and strong critic of Mr Putin's rule in Russia, where he had become a wanted man.


In 2006 the Kremlin accused foreign-based opponents of poisoning to death former KGB spy-turned-dissident Alexander Litvinenko.


It was thought that Russia was in part referring to Berezovsky, who denied the allegation and accused Mr Putin of personally being behind Litvinenko's death from radioactive polonium-210 poisoning.


Berezovsky ran up more than tens of millions of pounds in legal bills in less than two years after the court battle with Mr Abramovich.


He also built up legal costs totalling more than £250,000 just two months after becoming embroiled in a case at the same court with his former partner, Elena Gorbunova, who sat at Berezovsky's side throughout much of his battle with Mr Abramovich.


Earlier this week, the Daily Telegraph reported that the Russian oligarch would attempt to sell Red Lenin, an Andy Warhol screen print valued at between £30,000 and £50,000 by Christie's.


The artwork sold on Wednesday for £133,875 including the buyer's premium, according to the auction house's website.


In an interview with Forbes Russia magazine on the eve of his death, Berezovsky said he had lost "meaning" from his life and wanted to return to Russia.


He said he had "underestimated how important" Russia was to him, and he felt uncomfortable as an immigrant in Britain.


He admitted he had been "idealistic" about the prospects of creating democracy in Russia, and about the type of democracy that existed in the West, and his views had changed.


Berezovsky is believed to have written to President Putin recently to float the idea of going back to his homeland. If he did, he said he had no interest in engaging in politics and would focus on science.


Police cordons remained in place around Berezovsky's property at Titness Park on Mill Lane.


A police car without full markings blocked one entrance to the estate on London Road, while an officer stood at another cordon at the beginning of Mill Lane.


Several police cars could be seen coming and going from that cordon area, where members of the press, including a TV team from Ukraine, were gathered.


A police forensic investigation unit truck passed through the cordon at Mill Lane just before midday.

Independent News Service

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