Boris Berezovsky death: Chemical hazard police search house

Police with expertise in environments contaminated with chemical, biological and nuclear material are searching the house of the late exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky.

Mr Berezovsky, 67, was found dead on Saturday, and a Thames Valley police cordon remains in place as police investigate his unexplained death.

The body remains at the Berkshire house while the search – described as a precaution – takes place, police said.

They say local people are not at risk.

The ambulance service was called to the Ascot house of Mr Berezovsky at 15:18 GMT on Saturday. His body was reportedly found in a bath.

Wanted man

A Thames Valley police update said: “Specially trained officers are currently at the scene, including CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] trained officers, who are conducting a number of searches as a precaution.

“This is to enable officers to carry out an investigation into the man’s death.”

Supt Stuart Greenfield said: “We are aware the cordon is causing disruption to local residents and we apologise for any inconvenience, but it is important we take all necessary measures to ensure a full and thorough investigation can be carried out.

“I would like to reassure residents that we are confident there is no risk to the wider community.”

He said the property was part of a large estate, so a number of roads were closed “and will remain so for the time being”.

A former Kremlin power-broker whose fortunes declined under President Vladimir Putin, Mr Berezovsky emigrated to the UK in 2000.

He was a wanted man in Russia, an opponent of Mr Putin, and had survived numerous assassination attempts, including a bomb that decapitated his chauffeur.

Court cases

Mr Berezovsky was a close friend of murdered Russian emigre and former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 after he was poisoned with the radioactive material polonium-210 while drinking tea at a London meeting.

Alexander Litvinenko in a London hospital in November 2006
Alexander Litvinenko was a close associate of Mr Berezovsky

Without naming Mr Berezovsky, the Kremlin has accused its foreign-based opponents of organising the assassination – a claim Mr Berezovsky denied. He accused Mr Putin of being behind the death.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall said an interview Mr Berezovsky gave on the eve of his death might shed some light on his state of mind.

In the interview with a journalist from Forbes magazine on Friday, Mr Berezovsky said that he had changed his mind on many things, his life no longer made sense and he wished he could return to Russia.

Last night a Kremlin spokesman said that Mr Berezovsky had recently written to Mr Putin, saying he wanted to go home.

The tycoon’s wealth is thought to have considerably diminished in recent years, leaving him struggling to pay debts in the wake of costly court cases.

Last year, Mr Berezovsky lost a £3bn ($4.7bn) damages claim against Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich.


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