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The Mysterious Death of Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky

The Russian oligarch was found hanged in his home on March 23. Was it foul play?
The Mysterious Death of Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky
Illustration by Jen Mann

Who was Boris Berezovsky again?
A self-made billionaire—at the height of his wealth in 1997, Berezovsky’s estimated worth was $3 billion, according to Forbes—a former academic who, after the privatization of the Soviet Union’s state-run economy, built his fortune with investments in oil, cars, airplanes, aluminum, and TV stations. Berezovsky played an integral part in Vladimir Putin’s rise to power in 2000. Once elected, Putin lashed out against oligarchs, charging many with tax evasion. In 2000, Berezovsky fled to England, where he lived until his death.

What happened?
On March 23 he was discovered in a bathroom at his home in Ascot, Berkshire, by his bodyguard and pronounced dead by paramedics shortly after. The Thames Valley Police reported that Berezovsky was found with “a ligature around his neck and a piece of similar material on the shower rail above him,” and the death was “consistent with hanging.” But there was no suicide note, and, according to the police, the involvement of a second party “cannot be completely eliminated, as tests remain outstanding.” Nikolay Glushkov, a longtime friend of Berezovsky and a fellow Russian exile, suspects foul play. “The idea that he would have taken his own life is bulls- - -,” Glushkov told the Guardian. “Berezovsky had a lot of powerful enemies,” says Mark Galeotti, a professor at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. One name that’s mentioned repeatedly is Putin’s.