Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky died by hanging: police

Borris

His friends and associates have said he felt devastated after losing a legal battle against former partner Abramovich over shares in Russia's fourth-biggest oil company last year.

At the time, British Judge Elizabeth Gloster humiliated him publicly by saying he was an "unimpressive and inherently unreliable witness" who would say "almost anything to support his case."

An impulsive and fast-talking character, Berezovsky lived the adrenaline-fuelled life of Russia's A-team of oligarchs, known for his love of cognac, beautiful women and an ability to talk well into the night.

He suffered another blow in 2011 when he was forced to pay one of Britain's biggest-ever divorce settlements to his former wife Galina, and local media have reported that the settlement was believed to be more than $100 million.

FEARED FOR LIFE

Berezovsky had been known as the "godfather of the Kremlin" and wielded immense influence in politics and business during a violent decade that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Once in exile, he often said he feared for his life, particularly after his friend and former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died from radioactive polonium poisoning in 2006.

In Russia, Kremlin allies and pro-government media pressed ahead with portrayals of Berezovsky as a beaten man who had begged Putin's forgiveness in a last-ditch effort to return to his homeland. Berezovsky's friends in London have denied this.

Nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky said he had met Berezovsky by chance in the Israeli resort of Eilat in January, and that Berezovsky had said he would do "anything Moscow and the Kremlin told him" in order to return to Russia.

"The only condition (Berezovsky named) was a decree pardoning him" for the crimes he has been convicted of in Russia, Zhirinovsky told the Russian newspaper Izvestia in an interview published on Monday.

A former mathematician, Berezovsky made millions running post-Soviet car dealerships and expanded his business empire massively throughout the 1990s.

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