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UK police: Russian oligarch Berezovsky found dead

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Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky (AP Image)

Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky (AP Image)

LONDON (AP) – Boris Berezovsky, a self-exiled and outspoken former Russian oligarch who had a bitter falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been found dead in southeast England, police said Saturday. He was 67.

Thames Valley police said his death was being treated as unexplained. They would not directly identify him, but when asked about him by name they read a statement saying they were investigating the death of a 67-year-old man at a property in Ascot, a town 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of London.

A mathematician-turned-Mercedes dealer, Berezovsky amassed his wealth during Russia’s chaotic privatization of state assets in the early 1990s. In return for backing former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, he gained political clout and opportunities to buy state assets at knockdown prices.

But the one-time Kremlin powerbroker fell out with Putin and sought political asylum in Britain in the early 2000s. He has lived in the U.K. ever since.

Last year, the exiled businessman was ordered to pay 35 million pounds ($53.3 million) in legal costs to fellow Russian Roman Abramovich after losing a multimillion-dollar legal battle against the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club.

Berezovsky had claimed that Abramovich cheated him out of his stakes in the oil group Sibneft, arguing that he blackmailed him into selling the stakes vastly beneath their true worth after he lost Putin’s good graces. But a judge threw out the case in August, ruling that Berezovsky was a dishonest and unreliable witness.

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