British police investigating the death of exiled Russian oligarch and Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky said yesterday a search of his house by chemical, biological and nuclear experts had found “nothing of concern.”
The 67-year-old, who emigrated to Britain in 2000 after falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was found dead in his mansion in the town of Ascot outside London on Saturday.
Police officers trained in detecting chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) material inspected the house, but have given it the all-clear.
“I am pleased to say the CBRN officers found nothing of concern in the property and we are now progressing the investigation as normal,” police superintendent Simon Bowden said.
He said Berezovsky’s death remained “unexplained.”
Berezovsky was a close confidante of former Russian president Boris Yeltsin and one of a handful of businessmen who became billionaires following the privatization of Russian state assets in the 1990s.
However, he fell out with Yeltsin’s successor, Putin, and fled Russia in 2000.
In London, Berezovsky became one of the Kremlin’s most outspoken critics and is believed to have given financial support to a circle of exiled Russian critics.
Berezovsky’s body was found by a bodyguard and paramedics were called to the house, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, the ambulance service said.
Forbes’ Russian-language Web site published an interview he gave to journalist Ilya Zhegulev, in which Berezovsky said his “life no longer makes sense” and that all he wanted to do was return to Russia.
Zhegulev said the interview had taken place on Friday, but had not been recorded.
The tycoon’s friend Demyan Kudryavtsev dismissed speculation that Berezovsky had killed himself.
“There are no external signs of a suicide,” he told the Prime news agency in Russia. “There are no signs that he injected himself or swallowed any pills. No one knows why his heart stopped.”
After the news of Berezovsky’s death emerged, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the oligarch had written to Putin a couple of months ago saying he wanted to go home.
“He asked Putin for forgiveness for his mistakes and asked him to obtain the opportunity to return to the motherland,” Peskov told Russian state television.
Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said he had “no good words or high praise” for Berezovsky.
He told the RIA Novosti news agency that Berezovsky “himself admitted at the end of his life that he had lived for nothing, ending up without family, motherland, money, or friends. And the finale was fully consistent with that.”