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BEREZOVSKY, BORIS ABRAMOVICH
 
(b.1946)
 
One of Russia's more prominent "oligarchs" in the 1990s; currently a fugitive from Russian justice based in the UK that granted him political asylum. The media like abbreviating his full name to BAB.

Boris Berezovsky was educated at the Electronics and Computer Department, Moscow Forestry Institute; he did a post-graduate course at the Management Issues Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences; Doctor of Sciences, professor, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Author of several published research papers and books on applied mathematics and theoretical principles of management.

In 1967-1968 Berezovsky worked at the Research Institute for Test Machines, Instruments and Mass Measuring Devices, the USSR Ministry of Instrument Making; then at the USSR Hydrometeorology Committee; from 1970, at the Management Issues Institute, the USSR Academy of Sciences.

From 1989, Berezovsky was director general of LogoVAZ joint-stock company; from 1994, director general of AVVA (All-Russia Automobile Alliance) joint-stock company; from 1995, chairman of the board of directors at the ORT (Russian Public Television) joint-stock company.

Berezovsky left all of those positions once he had been appointed member of the RF Security Council in October 1996; in 1996-1997, deputy secretary of the RF Security Council, chiefly in charge of economic matters; from May 1998 to March 1999, executive secretary for the CIS; elected to the State Duma from the Karachai-Circassian constituency No. 15; in July 2000, gave up his seat in the Duma; on December 22, 2001, Berezovsky was elected one of the five co-chairmen of the Liberal Russia movement.

One of the Russian public's pet hates, variously described as an eminence grise, a perfidious mind, a latter-day Rasputin, a businessman-adventurer, a hyperactive Jewish schizo, a London exile, an oligarch-provocateur, a political refugee. During the Yeltsin reign Boris Berezovsky was alleged to be a member of the so-called Family, ingratiating himself with President Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Dyachenko with gifts of flashy cars, etc.

Totally amoral and capable of resorting to the most murderous methods of achieving his ends. On October 16, 1996 Alexander Lebed, then Secretary of the Security Council, accused Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky, president of the MOST financial group, of making up lists of persons slated for liquidation.

At about the same time Alexander Korzhakov, former chief of the RF president's security service, told journalists that Berezovsky had tried to talk him into assassinating Vladimir Gusinsky, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, singer and Duma deputy Iosif Kobzon, and others (Novy vzglyad newspaper, 19 October 1996).

There were persistent reports of Berezovsky sponsoring terrorists in Chechnya. In an interview to Forbes magazine Ichkeria's President Aslan Maskhadov referred to Boris Berezovsky as one of the persons most responsible for the war in the Caucasus.

Yusup Soslambekov, chairman of the Confederation of the Peoples of the Caucasus, regarded Berezovsky as his personal enemy and threatened to disclose evidence of Berezovsky's involvement with certain Chechen warlords whom he hired to help him in his shady dealings with Chechnya's oil, drug trafficking, hostage-taking and similar pursuits. Soon after Yusup Soslambekov fell victim to a contract killing in Moscow. Even before that Akmal Saidov, who had also unearthed facts about Berezovsky's criminal activities in the Caucasus, was kidnapped; his body was later found.

In February 2003, in an interview with The New York Times, Berezovsky boasted that his fortune in the form of investment in and outside Russia amounted to $3 billion.

Boris Berezovsky made his first money, and a lot of it too, while at the head of LogoVAZ. That money came to him through common-or-garden theft: Berezovsky and two other managers of LogoVAZ simply "appropriated" the money from the sale of 2322 cars, grabbing 60 billion rubles.

Berezovsky invented and used the so-called re-export scheme: VAZ automobiles were exported abroad only to get back to Russia later. The difference between prices for domestic and imported cars went to line the thieves' pockets.

The Prosecutor's Office initiated numerous legal actions against him, but the only case that has so far reached the court and names Berezovsky as defendant is the Aeroflot case.

The scam Berezovsky used with regard to Aeroflot can be viewed as a model of oligarch business in the mid-1990s. Fifty-one percent of the Aeroflot shares were state property, so any manipulation with the company was only possible from within. However, it was not for nothing that Berezovsky secured for himself the post of deputy secretary at Russia's Security Council. He used his position to make sure that all the key jobs in Aeroflot were filled with his old-time partners.

Fearing criminal proceedings against him after the power of the Family had begun to wane with the coming of Putin to power, Berezovsky escaped from Russia and settled in the UK. Here, he resorted to his trademark tricks in order to avoid extradition, forcing an unemployed Russian to give evidence that he had been sent to Britain by RF intelligence services to assassinate Berezovsky. A British judge granted Berezovsky political asylum on the strength of a tape recording, mostly forged, of a conversation with that unemployed person.

One of the latest criminal cases against Berezovsky was about plotting forcible seizure of power in Russia. The Western media alleged that the case rested on little more than a few words by Berezovsky. Indeed, the reason for instigating criminal proceedings against him was Berezovsky's interview that appeared on the France Press and Ekho Moskvy websites. The oligarch described how he and his associates had been preparing to seize power in Russia for the last 18 months. That time, the Home Office issued a stern warning to Berezovsky, and in other interviews Berezovsky explained that he had merely meant "taking over power" and intended to resort strictly to legal levers. But the office of the RF Prosecutor General insists that they have evidence of Berezovsky funding various organizations whose avowed goal is the overthrow of constitutional authority in Russia.

In the West, Berezovsky is mostly billed as a "critic of the Kremlin" - language that instantly justifies support for him among the routinely Russophobic politicians and media. In Russia, this sort of characterization automatically evokes in any right-thinking individual Ivan Krylov's fable of the cur and the elephant.


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