Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch who died last week at his U.K. home, was found with a noose around his neck.
A similar piece of material was tied to the shower rail above the 67-year-old in the bathroom where he was discovered, Detective Inspector Mark Bissell of Thames Valley Police said on the first day of a coroner’s inquest in Windsor, England, today.
Berezovsky died March 23 from hanging with no evidence of a violent struggle, U.K. police said earlier this week following an initial autopsy. The results of additional tests, including toxicology and histology examinations, won’t be known for several weeks.
Once a multibillionaire, Berezovsky faced mounting debt and last year lost one of the largest U.K. civil lawsuits ever filed against Roman Abramovich, the Russian owner of the Chelsea Football Club. Berezovsky, the judge said in her ruling in August, was “unimpressive and inherently unreliable.”
Alex Goldfarb, who described himself as friend of Berezovsky’s, told reporters outside the inquest that the Russian native seemed normal other than being under stress when they last spoke.
“He discussed plans, I didn’t come to any alarming thoughts,” Goldfarb said.
Berezovsky lived in self-imposed exile in the U.K. to avoid prosecution in Russia. No stranger to Russian power as a friend and confidant of Boris Yeltsin, he sparred publicly in recent years with President Vladimir Putin.
Berezovsky fled Russia for the U.K. in 2000 after backing Putin in his first presidential campaign. He was given political asylum three years later. Berezovsky said in a 2007 interview that he was worth $4 billion and that he was using a part of his fortune to finance “a revolution in Russia without blood.” Forbes magazine dropped the tycoon from its rich list in 2010, after estimating his wealth at $1 billion the previous year.
Goldfarb said Berezovsky and Putin had waged a 13-year fight that was personal and political.
“He always wanted to get back to Russia,” Goldfarb said.
Coroner Peter Bedford held a brief hearing today and adjourned the proceedings. Berezovsky was identified by his daughter, Elizaveta Berezovskaya, on March 26, Janine Prunty, of the coroner’s office, said at the hearing.
Inquests in England and Wales are held to examine sudden or unexplained deaths. Coroner’s inquests can come to a limited number of verdicts including death by accident, suicide, or unlawful killing. If there is insufficient evidence for any of those, they record an “open verdict.”
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