Billionaire's Death Seen as 'Natural'

LONDON -- Georgian businessman and political activist Badri Patarkatsishvili died of natural causes, according to interim postmortem results, but extensive toxicological tests have not yet been carried out, British police said Thursday.

Patarkatsishvili, 52, died at his home in Leatherhead, south of London, on Tuesday.

"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 department said in a statement.

"However, extensive toxicology testing is yet to be carried out. This will take a number of weeks."

A coroner's inquest will be opened on Friday, police added.

Patarkatsishvili had built his fortune in Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union through a partnership with fellow tycoon Boris Berezovsky, one of President Vladimir Putin's most vocal foes.

Campaigning from Britain, he ran for president of Georgia last month and lost to incumbent Mikheil Saakashvili. Opposition groups say the vote was rigged.

In Georgia, Patarkatsishvili's spokesman, Guga Kvitashvili, said the cause of death apparently was heart failure.

Family members and other unidentified people were with Patarkatsishvili when he collapsed around 11 p.m. Tuesday in his home 30 kilometers south of London, Surrey police said.

Berezovsky said relatives told him the opposition leader died of a heart attack.

Berezovsky said Patarkatsishvili had not been ill but had complained about his heart when they met Tuesday.

Patarkatsishvili said in December that he had obtained a tape recording of an official in his country's Interior Ministry. He said the official was heard asking a Chechen warlord to murder him while he was in London.

"I believe they want to kill me," Patarkatsishvili said. It was not possible to verify his claim.