UK

Testimony: Berezovsky talked openly about suicide

LONDON (AP) — Boris Berezovsky's friends and associates testified Wednesday the Russian oligarch had severe depression and talked openly about taking his own life before his apparent suicide last year.

The late tycoon was said to be complaining of financial pressures — including debts he felt he could not pay — after he lost a highly publicized 1 billion pound ($1.65 billion) legal dispute with fellow Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich.

His legal adviser, Michael Cotlick, told a coroner's inquest in Windsor, near London, that Berezovsky started talking about suicide in October 2012. He said he didn't take the talk seriously, because Berezovsky was telling "almost everybody" about his suicidal thoughts.

Cotlick said the tycoon had been taking antidepressants, but had stopped taking the pills days before his death because he believed the medication was hurting his liver. He also said Berezovsky was upset because his partner, Elena Gorbunova, had filed a substantial financial claim against him. Gorbunova said in a written statement that she was aware of Berezovsky's depression.

Psychiatrist Saeed Islam testified that Berezovsky "perceived relentless pressure" because of the court actions he was facing. He said Berezovsky told him: "I can't see a way out." Still, the psychiatrist said he did not believe suicide was an option for Berezovsky because of his religious conviction and his family ties.

Bodyguard Avi Navama told the inquest that Berezovsky had even discussed methods of ending his life. "He had said 'Should I jump or should I cut my veins?'" Navama said. Berezovsky's body was found slumped on the floor at his ex-wife's home last March.

Police said the death was "consistent with hanging." Berezovsky, who was 67, was a one-time Kremlin insider who had become a harsh critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was living in Britain in self-imposed exile at the time of his death.

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