Voices from Russia

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Did Exiled Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky “Commit Suicide?”

Édouard Manet. The Suicide. 1877

The Suicide

Édouard Manet



Fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky was found dead in the bathroom of his London house. Initially, this account emerged from his immediate entourage; a Moscow law firm later confirmed it. It quoted a caller from London as saying that Berezovsky committed suicide. Once a powerful influence in the Kremlin, he died a pauper and all alone. It’s not clear whether his death was a suicide or a homicide.

Boris Berezovsky, Russian business oligarch, government official, and former mathematician, was born on 23 January 1946 in Moscow. He graduated from the Moscow Forestry Engineering Institute in 1968; then, he worked as an engineer, serving as an assistant research officer from 1969 until 1987. After that, he headed a department in the Institute of Management Problems of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Berezovsky conducted research on optimisation and control theory, publishing 16 books and articles between 1975 and 1989.

Berezovsky made his fortune in Russia in the 1990s, when Russia privatised state property. He profited from gaining control over various assets, including the country’s main television channel, Первый Канал (Pervy Kanal: Channel One). In 1997, Forbes estimated Berezovsky’s wealth at 3 billion USD (92.7 billion Roubles. 2.3 billion Euros. 2 billion UK Pounds). Berezovsky helped fund Unity… a political party that formed Vladimir Putin’s parliamentary base, and he won election to the RF Gosduma on Putin’s slate. However, following the Russian presidential election in March 2000, Berezovsky went into opposition, and he resigned as a Gosduma Deputy. Later, he moved to the UK, where lived until his death.

Berezovsky 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, from the safety of the West, he criticised Putin’s record. In 2012, Berezovsky lost a case he brought to Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England against Roman Abramovich over the ownership of Sibneft, where he sought over 3 billion UK Pounds (141.3 billion Roubles. 4.6 billion USD. 3.5 billion Euros) in damages. The court judged Berezovsky as an “inherently unreliable” witness, who “regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes”, and that “at times, the evidence which he gave was deliberately dishonest; sometimes, he was clearly making his evidence up as he went along in response to the perceived difficulty in answering the questions”. The court concluded that Berezovsky was never a co-owner of Sibneft.

23 March 2013

Voice of Russia World Service



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