On Sunday, Dmitri Peskov, President Putin’s official spokesman, said that he didn’t know Putin’s reaction to Boris Berezovsky’s death. He added, “News of anyone’s death, no matter what kind of person they were, doesn’t arouse positive emotions”. Peskov confirmed information that several months ago Berezovsky sent a letter to Putin, in which he apologised for the mistakes he’d made and asked for permission to return to Russia. He didn’t say who exactly handed the letter to the President.
Peskov said that Berezovsky’s relatives filed a request to bury Berezovsky in Russia; the government would consider this request. In an interview with Dozhd TV, Peskov said that Berezovsky often harshly criticised the Russian government, saying, “There are reliable reports that he spared no expense on supporting forces both in Russia and abroad aimed against Russia and Putin. It’s clear. It’s also obvious that he made rather harsh statements in which he stated his intent to fight Putin. He obviously had an important role. I don’t know whether it was positive or negative, but he was very influential. I wouldn’t want to exaggerate his role in the 2000s, though. It was minuscule”.
Thames Valley Police in Berkshire called Berezovsky’s death “unexplained”. A bodyguard found the body of 67-year old Berezovsky on Saturday morning in his house in Ascot, 40 kilometres west of London. According to one version, he committed suicide; according to another, he suffered a heart attack. By now, the experts who conducted an investigation at Berezovsky’s house reported that they found no chemical, biological, or radioactive substances at the place of his death. The only thing that’s definite is that he was deeply-depressed for several months.
Russian political analysts say that Berezovsky suffered from his inability to influence political events in Russia. This was like oxygen for him. Vladimir Gelman, a professor at the European University at St Petersburg (EUSP), said, “After 2000, he was no longer in the political arena. If it weren’t for his scandals and trials in recent years, nobody would’ve remembered him. His political death came much earlier than his physical death. In fact, the oligarch epoch ended in the very early 2000s. So, as a politician, he was dead back then. His physical death only drew a line under his biography”. Yevgeni Minchenko, head of the Russian International Institute of Political Studies, agreed with his colleague, noting, “Berezovsky had a chance to stay on the ruling team, but he didn’t want to play second fiddle. He was a very active man. His defeat in court against Roman Abramovich was the last straw for him”.
24 March 2013
Voice of Russia World Service