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Russian tycoon Berezovsky found dead in London

Exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a prominent Russian opposition figure, was found dead at his home near London on Saturday. NBC's Lester Holt reports.

Exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a prominent Russian opposition figure, was found dead at his home near London on Saturday, British officials told NBC News. He was 67.

His death was also reported in a Facebook post by his son-in-law, Egor Schuppe. "Boris Berezovsky dead," the post read.

Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images, file

A picture dated Oct. 4, 2011 shows Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky leaving the Court of Appeal in Central London. Berezovsky, the exiled Russian oligarch and long-time opponent of the Kremlin, has died in Britain at the age of 67, his spokesman said on March 23, 2013, without giving further details.

Police said in a statement that they were investigating "the unexplained death of a 67-year-old man, believed to be Russian national Boris Berezovsky." Officials were combing through a property in Ascot, Berkshire, which is about 25 miles west of London. 

Officers trained in dealing with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats conducted a number of searches as a precaution but found "nothing of concern in the property," according to the police statement. One road block in the area remained closed, police said.

Police said Berezovsky's body was still in the property Saturday night, police said.

"I would like to reassure residents that we are confident there is no risk to the wider community," Supt. Stuart Greenfield said in an earlier statement. "The property is part of a large estate so a number of roads are closed off at the moment and will remain so for the time being."

Berezovsky accumulated his wealth in the early 1990s, when Russia's privatization of state assets turned chaotic. He orchestrated the re-election of Boris Yeltsin in 1996 and played a role in Vladimir Putin's rise to prominence, but he fell out of favor with the latter after Putin became president of Russia in 2000. 

Berezovsky fled Russia for Britain in 2001 after criticizing Putin's government. He was granted political asylum in Britain in 2003.

Berezovsky was a close friend of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, who was fatally poisoned with radioactive polonium in London in 2006.

Last year, a court ordered him to pay $53.3 million in legal costs to fellow Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, after losing a legal battle against him. The legal and other costs of that lawsuit amounted to about $250 million.


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