Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Boris Berezovsky

Boris Abramovich Berezovsky a.k.a. Platon Elenin (born January 23, 1946) is a Russian-born billionaire. He emigrated to the UK in 2001, where he was granted political asylum.
Berezovsky was born into a Jewish family in Moscow. He studied forestry and then applied mathematics, receiving his doctorate in 1983. He did research in Optimization and Control theory, publishing 16 books and articles between 1975 and 1989. He later became a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1991 and the chair of a laboratory in its Institute of Control Sciences.
Boris Berezovsky
Berezovsky started in business in 1989 under perestroika by buying and reselling automobiles from state manufacturer AutoVAZ. Officially, Berezovsky was called upon as an expert in development of optimized system of management of the enterprise. In 1992, a new middleman company, "LogoVAZ", was created with Berezovsky as its president. LogoVAZ became an exclusive consignment dealer of AutoVAZ, enabling a scheme (named "ReExport") in which cars were sold abroad and then bought back for sale on the internal market. Frequently cars also were not taken out at all - all operations on export and import remained only on paper. Each car realized by this scheme brought dealers an income of up to USD 1,500.
In May 1994, Berezovsky became head of the notorious Automobile All-Russia alliance "АVVА" ("АВВА" in Russian) and became known as the initiator of the project of "the national car". This enterprise has appeared only as a financial pyramid. Shares of a nonexistent factory which has never been constructed were sold. On the data published in the Russian mass-media, the sum of default before investors totalled USD 50 million.
During the lawlessness of the early 1990s Berezovsky, like many businessmen, was targeted for extortion by the Russian mafia, which were powerful in Moscow at that time. He survived several assassination attempts. In 1994, as his Mercedes was pulling out of his headquarters, a huge car bomb decapitated Berezovsky's chauffeur. Berezovsky was not injured, as he was in his LogoVAZ offices during the assassination attempt.
During the presidency of Boris Yeltsin, Berezovsky was among those businessmen who gained access to the president. He used his political connections to acquire stakes in state companies including AutoVAZ itself, the state airline Aeroflot, and several oil properties that he organized into Sibneft, paying a fraction of the companies' book values. Berezovsky established a bank to finance his operations and acquired several news media holdings as well. These media holdings provided essential support for Yeltsin's re-election in 1996. Berezovsky's holdings included the television channels ORT and TV6, along with the newspapers Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Novye
Izvestiya and Kommersant.
Berezovsky is a leading proponent of political and economic liberalization in Russia. He has frequently entered into politics by investing in the liberal media, financing liberal candidates, making political statements, and even seeking office himself. He was briefly secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Independent States and later a member of the Duma. Berezovsky had strong ties with Chechens through their Moscow diaspora connections. According to Ramzan Kadyrov, Berezovsky was strongly opposed to the Second Chechen War but nonetheless supported Vladimir Putin's 2000 presidential campaign.
On June 15, 2000, The Times reported that Spanish police discovered Putin illegally visiting a villa in Spain belonging to Berezovsky on up to five different occasions in 1999.
Putin neither welcomed Berezovsky's views on Chechnya, nor his political clout and opened investigations into Berezovsky's opaque business activities. Fearing arrest, Berezovsky fled to London, where he was granted political asylum. He has been charged with fraud and political corruption, but the Russian government has not been able to extradite him. From his secure base in the U.K., he has strongly criticized the current Russian administration.

Alleged travel document on the name of Platon Elenin
In 2003 Boris Berezovsky formally changed his name to Platon Elenin ("Platon" being Russian for Plato, and Elena is the name of his wife) in the British courts. No reason has been given - but Platon is the name of the lead character in a film Tycoon based on his life. In December 2003 he was allowed to travel under his new name to Georgia, provoking a row between Russia and Georgia.
In recent years, Berezovsky has gone into business with Neil Bush, the younger brother of U.S. President George W. Bush. Berezovsky has been an investor in Bush's Ignite! Learning, an educational software corporation, since at least 2003. In 2005, Neil Bush met with Berezovsky in Latvia, causing tension with Russia due to Berezovsky's fugitive status. Neil Bush has also been seen in Berezovsky's box at the Emirates Stadium, the home of British soccer club Arsenal F.C., for a game. There has been speculation in the English language Moscow Times that the relationship may cause tension in Russo-American bilateral relations, "especially since Putin has taken pains to build a personal relationship with the U.S. president."
In September 2005, soon after the Ukrainian government led by prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was dismissed by president Viktor Yushchenko, former president of the Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk accused Berezovsky of financing Yushchenko's presidential election campaign, and provided copies of documents showing money transfers from companies he said are controlled by Berezovsky to companies controlled by Yuschenko's official backers. Berezovsky has confirmed that he met Yushchenko's representatives in London before the election, and that the money was transferred from his companies, but he refused to confirm or deny that the companies that received the money were used in Yushchenko's campaign. Financing of election campaigns by foreign citizens is illegal in Ukraine.
In January 2006, Berezovsky stated in an interview to a Moscow based radio station that he was working on overthrowing the administration of Vladimir Putin by force . In November 2006, Berezovsky accused Putin of ordering the poisoning of FSB defector and fellow dissident Alexander Litvinenko, who also lived in exile in the UK. The two were close associates. [ Berezovsky said he had no doubts that Russian authorities were behind the poisoning.
On April 13, 2007, in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Berezovsky declared that he is plotting a new Russian revolution to overthrow the regime of Vladimir Putin by financing important people in Putin's administration.
"We need to use force to change this regime," he said. "It isn't possible to change this regime through democratic means. There can be no change without force, pressure." Asked if he was effectively fomenting a revolution, he said: "You are absolutely correct."
During the interview, however, he did not mention violence and cited the recent nonviolent revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia as examples for Russia.
He also admitted that during the last six years he struggled much to "destroy the positive image of Putin" and tried to portray him whenever possible as a dangerously anti-democratic figure. On April 13th Berezovsky told the Associated Press by telephone in Britain, "Putin has created an authoritarian regime against the Russian constitution." He added, "I don't know how it will happen, but authoritarian regimes only collapse by force."
The Russian Prosecutor Gereneral's Office has launched a criminal investigation against Berezovsky to find whether his comments can be considered a "seizure of power by force", as outlined in the Russian Criminal Code. If convicted, an offender is facing up to 20 years of imprisonment.
The British Foreign Office has denounced Berezovsky's statements, warning him that his status of a political refugee may be reconsidered, should he continue to make similar remarks. Furthermore, Scotland Yard has announced that it will investigate whether Berezovsky's statements are in violation of the law.
Allegations of corruption
A 1996 Forbes magazine article titled "Godfather of the Kremlin?", by Paul Klebnikov, portrayed Berezovsky as a mafia boss who had his rivals murdered. Berezovsky sued the magazine for libel, and the dispute was ultimately settled with the magazine retracting both claims. Klebnikov expanded the article into a book, Godfather of the Kremlin, that Berezovsky did not contest in court. Klebnikov subsequently became the editor of the Russian edition of Forbes, but he was murdered in Moscow on July 9, 2004.
After his self-exile, prosecutors in Russia had accused Berezovsky of a host of crimes, including fraud and preparing a violent overthrow of Putin's government. Berezovsky denies all the allegations. (source:wiki)

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