Boris Berezovsky

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This article is about the Russian businessman. For the Russian pianist, see Boris Berezovsky (pianist).
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Boris Berezovsky

Boris Abramovich Berezovsky (Бори́с Абра́мович Березо́вский) (born January 23, 1946) is a Russian-born businessman now living in London, and is known as Russia's first billionaire.[citation needed] After having been accused of business irregularities in Russia, he moved to the UK in 2001 where he was granted political asylum. In 2003 he legally changed his name to Platon Elenin.<ref>Boris Berezovsky is now officially known as Platon Elenin by the British Home Office [1]</ref>

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[edit] Early life

Berezovsky was born to a Jewish family in Moscow. He studied forestry and then applied mathematics, receiving his doctorate in 1983. 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.

[edit] Business career

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. The main profit of the company came from the fake export of the Lada cars, which were bought for resale abroad, though in reality sold on the internal market.

[edit] Allegations of corruption

During the lawlessness of the early 1990s Berezovsky, like many businessmen, was targeted by the Russian mafia for extortion, allegedly because of connections Berezovsky had with the Chechen mafia, which were powerful in Moscow at that time. He survived several assassination attempts, including a 1994 car bomb attack. Also he was almost killed a few years later in a rally standpoint shootoff[citation needed].

[edit] Political activity and exile

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, state airline Aeroflot, and several oil properties that he organized into Sibneft, paying a fraction of the companies' book values. Berezovsky organized a bank to finance his operations and acquired several news media holdings as well. These media holdings provided essential support for Yeltsin's reelection in 1996. Berezovsky's holdings included the television channels ORT and TV-6, 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.

Putin did not welcome Berezovsky's views on Chechnya or his political clout and opened investigations into Berezovsky's business activities. Fearing arrest, Berezovsky escaped 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. He has strongly criticized the current Russian administration and believes that Putin could stage a coup d'etat rather than leave office in 2009 as the constitution requires.

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 and was murdered in Moscow on July 9, 2004.

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, which provoked a row between Russia and Georgia.

In recent years, Berezovsky has gone into business with Neil Bush, the younger brother of US President George W. Bush. Berezovsky has been an investor in Bush's Ignite! Learning, an educational software corporation, since at least 2003. [2] In 2005, Bush met with Berezovsky in Latvia. The meeting caused tension between that country and Russia due to Berezovsky's fugitive status. [3] Bush has also been seen in Berezovsky's box at the Emirates Stadium, a British soccer stadium, for a game. [4] 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." [5]

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 the Ukraine.[6].

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. Berezovsky said he had no doubts that the Russian authorities were behind the poisoning. [7] The two were close associates. Litvinenko died from Polonium 210 poisoning, and traces of Polonium 210 were found in a restaurant he had visited, in his home and office, and in an office belonging to Berezovsky. [8]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

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[edit] External links

de:Boris Abramowitsch Beresowski fr:Boris Berezovski he:בוריס ברזובסקי lt:Borisas Berezovskis nl:Boris Berezovski ja:ボリス・ベレゾフスキー pl:Borys Bieriezowski pt:Boris Berezovsky ru:Березовский, Борис Абрамович fi:Boris Berezovski

Boris Berezovsky

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