Threatened Jewish Georgian tycoon died of natural causes

Police had treated his death as "suspicious," which is standard with sudden deaths.

Patarkatsishvili 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Patarkatsishvili 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
An exiled Jewish Georgian billionaire living in Israel and the UK, who had spoken of his fears of assassination, died of natural causes, according to initial results of a postmortem examination. Badri Patarkatsishvili, 52, collapsed at his country mansion in Surrey, southeast England, on Tuesday night. His family reported that he suffered a heart attack. Police, however, were treating his death as "suspicious," which is standard with sudden deaths. A Surrey Police spokesperson said the postmortem carried out on Wednesday night showed he died of natural causes. "Following initial inquiries and the postmortem carried out last night, Surrey Police can confirm that at this stage there is no indication that the sudden death of Badri Patarkatsishvili was from anything other than natural causes," the spokesperson said. Toxicology tests are yet to be carried out and an inquest will be opened on Friday; full test results are not expected for at least 10 weeks. Patarkatsishvili helped to finance the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003 that swept President Mikhail Saakashvili to power, but subsequently fell out with him and backed mass street protests last year against the Georgian government. He was charged with plotting a coup after the protests and has since lived in self-imposed exile in the UK and Israel. Patarkatsishvili had visited Israel several times before leaving Georgia, and is understood to have had close ties in the Israeli leadership, including with President Shimon Peres. The Georgian tycoon, who had an estimated £6 billion fortune amassed during the privatization of state industries in Russia during the 1990s, had voiced concerns for his safety, believing his life was at risk. In December he told The Sunday Times he did not feel safe returning to his country. The paper published extracts of a tape recording of a conversation alleged to have taken place between a Georgian Interior Ministry official and a possible hit man. Allegedly, the two men discussed options to make Patarkatsishvili "disappear completely." His death raised fears of another Alexander Litvinenko-style murder. Litvinenko was a Russian dissident who was poisoned in London in 2006, leading to public accusations that the Russian government was behind his death. Patarkatsishvili had been a longtime business partner of Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, an outspoken Kremlin critic who now lives in exile in London.