Apparent suicide of oligarch to raise eyebrows at State Dept. Russia desk

Here’s a story that’s bound to turn some heads in Washington: oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a Russian exile and adversary of Vladimir Putin, has died in London.

According to the Guardian, insiders believe that Berezovsky committed suicide.

The circumstances of his death were unclear, although there were unconfirmed claims that the former power-broker of Russian politics had killed himself.

Berezovsky’s death comes only months after he lost a high-profile and personally disastrous court case against fellow Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. He had accused the Chelsea football club owner of blackmail, breach of trust and breach of contract in relation to a Russian oil company. After the claims were dismissed, he was ordered by the high court to pay £35m of Abramovich’s legal costs.

His financial difficulties were recently further exacerbated after his former mistress Elena Gorbunova, 43, claimed that Berezovsky owed her $8m (£5m) in compensation over the sale of their $40m residence in Surrey.

In 2007, Berezovsky told the Guardian that he “was plotting a ‘revolution’ to overthrow President Vladimir Putin” — an admission that attracted the attention of law enforcement officials in Britain and Russia.

According to the paper, State Department officials “were also known to be studying the businessman’s repeated assertions that force must be used to get rid of Mr. Putin.”

Berezovsky had also been an associate of Alexander Litvinenko, the deceased former Russian intelligence officer who was poisoned in London after seeking asylum in Britain, and claimed that the Kremlin had planned to kill him.

But. thus far, there doesn’t appear to be a shred of evidence hinting that Moscow might be in any way involved in his death. The Guardian also reported that Berezovsky “was recently depressed.”

Aleksandr Dobrovinksy, head of the Moscow-based Alexander Dobrovinsky & Partners law firm, claimed on his social network page that the 67-year-old former billionaire had killed himself. The statement read: “Just got a call from London. Boris Berezovsky committed suicide. He was a difficult man. A move of disparity? Impossible to live poor? A strike of blows? I am afraid no one will get to know now.”

Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.