Controversial Russian Tycoon Berezovsky Dead at 67

MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti) – Self-exiled Russian businessman and Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky has died in his Surrey home at the age of 67, his son-in-law, Yegor Shuppe, said on his Facebook page Saturday.

“Boris Berezovsky is dead,” he wrote.

There have been conflicting reports over the causes of Berezovsky’s death.

According to some media reports, he committed suicide.

In 2001 Berezovsky fled to France and then to the UK. In 2002, the Russian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of money-laundering and illegal business activity.

In November 2007, a Russian court sentenced Berezovsky, a former Kremlin insider during the rule of President Boris Yeltsin, to six years in jail in absentia for stealing millions of dollars from the Russian airline carrier Aeroflot in the 1990s.

In June 2009, he was sentenced to a further 13 years in absentia for stealing thousands of cars from carmaker Avtovaz, also in the 1990s.

Berezovsky denied the charges.

Last May Russia’s Investigative Committee initiated two criminal cases against the UK-based Russian tycoon over his public calls for riots in order to prevent the inauguration of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his entry to the Kremlin on May 7.

Berezovsky, one of the people who helped bring the former KGB agent to power in the late 1990s, warned that “protest rallies may turn into the thunder of a cannonade.”

President Putin has been informed of Berezovsky’s death, the president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russia 24 TV network.

Peskov also said that Berezovsky had written to Putin “perhaps a couple of months ago,” asking forgiveness for the mistakes he had made and “requesting permission to return to the motherland.”

The Christie’s auction house said on Wednesday it had sold Andy Warhol’s limited edition print of Vladimir Lenin, the father of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, for over $202,000.

According to The Times, the print was previously owned by Berezovsky. The paper said, citing “sources familiar with the oligarch’s affairs,” that the artwork was auctioned “to pay off creditors and legal bills.” In August 2012, Berezovsky lost a legal battle against Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich. The tycoon sought about $4.7 billion in damages, accusing his former business partner of intimidating him into selling shares in Russian oil giant Sibneft below their true value.

In July 2011 Berezovsky’s ex-wife, 53-year-old Galina Besharova, won a divorce settlement which the British media described as the English legal system’s largest ever divorce payout, rumored to be worth up to 220 million British pounds (over $330 million).

In January, the judge presiding over another legal case involving Berezovsky issued a ruling describing the businessman as “a man under financial pressure.”

Berezovsky had survived several assassination attempts, including one that killed his driver.

Updates with Peskov remarks, expands, adds background

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