Berezovsky: Kingmaker reduced to a shadow in exile
By the end of his days, Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian tycoon who has died in unclear circumstances, was seen as a puppet master with few strings left to pull. He will be remembered in Russia as the man who orchestrated Vladimir Putin‘s unlikely ascent to power – and then became his loudest foe. Falling out with his powerful creation had its dire consequences: exile, criminal charges, witnessing the murky deaths of friends and allies. In recent months, Russian television – once controlled by Berezovsky in his 1990s heyday but now firmly in the hands of the Kremlin – revelled in the details of his financial demise.
Once, he was one of Russia’s most powerful men, the fast-talking, impossibly well-connected, leader of a group of oligarchs that ruled Russia from behind the scenes as Boris Yeltsin, the country’s first post-Soviet president, slipped deeper and deeper into ill health. He fashioned links to power to build on the fortune he had already amassed by navigating the wild and murky chaos that gripped Russia as the Soviet Union fell, while most of the population plunged into poverty. As part of a controversial loans-for-shares scheme, he snapped up the airline Aeroflot and the oil producer Sibneft, along with Roman Abramovich. By then he owned the country’s most powerful television station.
Seeking a successor to Yeltsin ahead of a 2000 election, he was said to have seen a malleable figure in Putin, then an unknown former KGB officer working in the mayor’s office in St Petersburg, and threw his vast media resources into introducing him to the nation. Trained in the Soviet era as a mathematician, Berezovsky thoroughly miscalculated.
Berezovsky soon fell out with Putin, who proved to be more independent than the tycoon could have imagined. Berezovsky’s Channel One began questioning the increasingly powerful leader – focusing on his bungled handling of the Kursk submarine disaster, in which 118 sailors died, and exploring possible security services involvement in a series of deadly bomb blasts that provided the catalyst for the renewal of war in Chechnya.
The latter would seal his friendship with Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB officer who claimed he was once ordered to assassinate Berezovsky and who later devoted his life to investigating the bombing claims. Litvinenko died of polonium poisoning in London in 2006. Until his financial troubles began, Berezovsky was paying the legal fees of Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, as she fought to prove Russian state involvement in her husband’s death.
Putin threw the full power of his state against Berezovsky: legal claims involving Aeroflot, the arrest of an associate, schemes that the tycoon claimed forced him to sell Channel One, and his stake in Sibneft. His claims of intimidation over the Sibneft sale were dismissed in court when he tried to sue Abramovich for damages.
A fellow oligarch media magnate, Vladimir Gusinsky, had already been forced into exile as Putin sought to rid the Kremlin of outside meddling. Berezovsky followed in 2001, settling in London, where he was granted political asylum two years later.
Berezovsky made a career of criticising Putin from abroad. Shorn of his homeland and stripped of his power, he accused the Russian president of cracking down on free speech, killing critics and amassing enormous wealth. He also claimed to have helped fund the revolutions that swept Ukraine and Georgia nearly a decade ago, turning the post-Soviet countries away from Moscow.
Russia tried him several times in absentia, finding him guilty of stealing great sums from Aeroflot. Britain repeatedly denied requests for his extradition, a sore point in relations between London and Moscow.
The Kremlin eventually turned Berezovsky’s claims against him – accusing the former kingmaker of orchestrating nearly every scandal to hit the country in the past decade. Kremlin officials said he was involved in the death of Litvinenko as well as of crusading journalist and Putin critic Anna Politkovskaya. A recent report on NTV, another state-run TV channel, implied he had created the jailed punk group Pussy Riot in order to embarrass the Kremlin. The charges kept piling on – the latest, coming in May last year, accused him of “seeking to provoke mass unrest”.
By the end of his life, Berezovsky was a shadow of his former self. Speaking to the Russian edition of Forbes on Friday, the day before he was found dead, he said: “I want nothing more than to return to Russia. The most important thing I didn’t realise was how dear Russia is to me, how I can’t be an emigrant.”
BRITISH police have said they had found no evidence so far that anyone else was involved in the death of exiled oligarch and Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky at his mansion outside London.
Police revealed that Berezovsky, 67, was found by one of his employees on the floor of his bathroom at the house in the upmarket town of Ascot on Saturday.
A paramedic went to the house but Berezovsky was dead when the medical worker arrived.
Officers trained in detecting chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear material inspected the property after a device carried by the paramedic suggested the presence of a possibly hazardous substance, but they gave it the all clear.
Police said the death remained “unexplained” but their initial investigation suggested that no-one else was involved.
“It would be wrong to speculate on the cause of death until the post mortem has been carried out. We do not have any evidence at this stage to suggest third party involvement,” Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Brown of Thames Valley Police said.
Berezovsky was a resident in the affluent countryside area of Ascot in Berkshire. He also had numerous business interests, he had partnered with Neil Bush, brother of former US President George W. Bush.
The two were involved with the educational software company, Ignite! Along with several other billionaire investors from the middle-east and Russia.
Berezovksy was also linked to Prince Michael of Kent, the queen’s cousin. It was reported that he constantly gave cash gifts to the prince in order to be included in high society functions.
The Sunday Times Rich List in 2012 had put his wealth at $1.3 billion. It’s likely at the time of his death that wealth was significantly reduced thanks to legal costs and a series of legal penalties put in place against him.
Despite being a billionaire, Berezovsky has massive legal debts stemming from 2012 law suit against fellow Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich (owner of Chelsea Soccer Club). The two were business partners in the 90s in Russia when Communism fell and money was to be made. But in 2012, Berezovsky launched a $5 billion suit against his former partner accusing him of a string of crimes, including breach of trust and blackmail.
From his new home in the UK, where he and associates including Akhmed Zakayev, Alexander Litvinenko and Alex Goldfarbbecame known as “the London Circle” of Russian exiles, Berezovsky publicly stated that he was on a mission to bring down Putin “by force” or by bloodless revolution. He established the International Foundation for Civil Liberties, to “support the abused and the vulnerable in society – prisoners, national minorities and business people” in Russia and criticized Putin’s record in the West.
1946 – Boris Berezovsky is born in Moscow to an engineer father and a scientist mother, who were both Russian Jews.
1962-87 – After receiving degrees in electronics and mathematics, Berezovsky writes his doctoral thesis on cybernetics and information theory. He rises to become the head of a large department at the Institute of Management Problems.
1987-89 – After abandoning his research career, Berezovsky looks for business opportunities as private economic activity was permitted for the first time since the 1920s. He also moonlights as a columnist for Sovetskaya Rossiya newspaper, publishing articles on economic reforms.
1989 – Boris Berezovsky co-founds LogoVAZ, initially a company that installed sophisticated Western software in Ladas, but eventually the main source of his wealth.
“March 12th 2013
Brandishing what he said was a classified British police report into Litvinenko’s death, Mr Lugovoi said that the accusations against him were “nonsense” and that Scotland Yard was ignoring alternative theories of the crime in order to smear the Kremlin.
Litvinenko’s alleged work for British intelligence, collaboration with Spanish authorities investigating the Russian mafia and private intelligence work was a “lifestyle that earned him all sorts of open and covert enemies”, Mr Lugovoi said.
Mr Logovoi alleged that the British inquest has been influenced by Boris Berezovsky, a flamboyant and outspoken Russian oligarch in London exile who had close ties to Litvinenko. Mr Lugovoi says Mr Berezovsky was involved in the poisoning, a charge that Mr Berezosvky has denied.”
wild story..a lot to get through but its a great read..the russian jew who was one of the original oligarchs under the yeltsin era..became a kingmaker helping to create putin but then became ostracized from russia.. connected to litvinenko and the current inquest into his death which just happened to be cancelled for 6 months 2 week ago..business partner with george bush’ brother..involved with prince micheal who is a heavy freemason..its almost like fiction but its real..he didnt commit suicide..thats a given..hes just another to be taken out by the vengeful spy agencies..of which country though? 🙂
see what happens when you against vlad?