The following transcript and audio file is from a dinner in London with Boris Berezovsky which was attended by several journalists, including Jimmy Burns of the Financial Times.
JB The Financial Times’ Jimmy Burns
BB Boris Berezovsky
JB: Mr Berezovsky, you were asked, or the audience was asked before what they felt about you being here in this country. The fact is that you were given refugee status. One of the reasons you were given it was that you felt your life was threatened. My first question is whether you believe your life is in danger in this country and whether it will be in even more danger if you go back to Russia? And secondly whether you are currently funding the Other Russia coalition?
BB: Okay, the first question. Definitely I don’t feel safe. And definitely I don’t want to present myself as a brave man who isn’t afraid of anything. I tell you that my way of life, I didn’t choose in 2000. I chose it much earlier, definitely in 1996, let’s say, when I took the decision to support Yeltsin against Zyuganov. Yet in spite of all polls predicting Zyuganov as a winner in Russia I just thought, well, if he [Yeltsin] is going to lose I will be killed, without any doubt. And not only me, all the people, all this group of people, close to Yeltsin, who decided to support him. It means that this feeling of danger started a long time before I moved to this country. Definitely what happened with Litvinenko created more of a mental problem or a real problem of safety, because it’s very important to understand that really, at least for me, Putin is prepared to give orders to kill anyone that he defines as an enemy of Russia, definitely. I’m not an enemy of Russia, I think that I’m one of the biggest supporters of Russia. Putin is an enemy of Russia; this is really a contradiction. And nevertheless I tell you that I believe in the power of the police here, Scotland Yard and the people who definitely understand that my case is special and they have helped me when I moved to this country in 2001. In 2002 two policemen came to my home and in front of my lawyer said that there is a plot to kill me by Chechens who they think were initiated by Moscow and so … and that’s okay, it’s like I never thought that I took the wrong decision and I am absolutely sure that what I did in 1996 and 1999 and when I took the decision to leave Russia it was my view, my personal will, and I just want to say that I would do the same absolutely if time was turned back.
And the second question. I split my support of revolution in Russia into two subjects. The first one is to help people in the west to understand that Putin is not a friend of the west; that Putin is a real danger to the west. And I spent a lot of money, a lot of time, to help you [the British], if it’s possible to say so, to understand that Putin’s Russia is dangerous. Dangerous for the west. And definitely I put myself as a target to destroy his image in the west. But it’s absolutely open opposition. The second is that I tried to organise a political party in Russia, three of us, Mr Yushenkov, Mr Golovlyov and me, they came to France. They were members of the Russian parliament. And we decided to build a party. Two of them were killed. I am still here. And I understood that time, that this way of open opposition doesn’t work, at least for me. And that’s the reason why I decided to choose the other way. I really support the opposition of Russian sometimes through the fund of civil liberties, which I created in 2000 in New York, in America, and a branch was in Russia. There are now branches in the Ukraine, in Latvia, and definitely I use my time, my money, to support the opposition of Russia.
JB: Are you funding the Other Russia coalition?
BB: Yes.Here's what "Other Russia" itself has to say about it:
No Ties with Berezovsky
The Kremlin believes that if you repeat a lie enough at least some people will believe it. (Perhaps more than some if you have total control of the mass media.) But the constant allegations that Other Russia is funded or otherwise supported by exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky grew stale long ago. The latest round of this old game has been started by the Financial Times and an impromptu interview with Berezovsky in London. Based on the noisy and distracted nature of the interview it’s obvious to us Berezovsky did not understand the question being asked at the end, which he took as asking for confirmation that he funded the opposition in Russia. (The audio file is available, but cuts off abruptly after the desired answer is received so we are left in the dark regarding any clarification.)
When he found out what was being said about his remarks, Berezovsky quickly denied supporting Other Russia and denied claiming to have said he did. We are quite certain that had the interviewer added something such as “Kasparov” or otherwise made it clear — perhaps speaking in Russian instead of challenging Berezovsky’s English in a noisy room — this latest farce could have been avoided. Or are we supposed to believe that after repeated denials, Berezovsky would suddenly change his mind and confess to a “crime” he did not commit? And that he would do this one week after he stated in an interview with the Russian National Journal that he had “never given a penny” to Other Russia and had “never been asked to”? Such behavior is well below the journalistic standards of the Financial Times. The Other Russia coalition yet again denies any involvement with Berezovsky, as today’s statements from Garry Kasparov and United Civil Front executive director Denis Bilunov make clear.Thanks to reader Zaxi, who has pointed to a page from Berezovsky's blog in Russian in which, on May 28, 2007, two days before the FT article appeared, he viciously attacked Other Russia for allowing the nomination of Bukovsky as a presidential candidate (LR reported on this previously), arguing that it might divide the anti-Putin forces (LR advanced this same argument). He stated that OR was too divided, confused and selfish and declared he would not "support" them any longer (it's not clear whether this term had anything to do with money). It's a gross lapse in journalism on the part of the Financial Times that Berezovsky's blog statement wasn't even mentioned, much less explored. It is of course quite strange that the FT only published a one-word answer with no followup, so it seems Mr. Berezovsky may have been misquoted, and if so as far as we're concerned that's a pity. Other Russia can't afford to be so choosy as to refuse support from any quarter it can, and Berezovsky should be filling Other Russia's coffers if he isn't already. As anyone who knows the first thing about Russia knows only too well, beggars can't be choosers. It's a sad commentary on the state of modern Russia that one of its greatest champions of liberty might be a mafia don,but better some opposition than none at all, which is what we would otherwise get from the cowardly, selfish and moronic majority of people of Russia, those who favor the malignant little troll that prowls the Kremlin with 70% plus approval even as he provokes a new cold war, sees 1 million lost from the population every year, AIDS rampant and $2.50/hour average wages. It's sad, but it doesn't make it any less of a fact. La Russophobe has no hesitation in saying that she would prefer to see Russia governed by a mafia don rather than a person who spent his whole life in the KGB any day of the week, if that is the only choice she is given. Just as America made common cause with the scum-sucking Bolsheviks in World War II against Germany, it can make common cause with Berezovsky against the evil incarnate of Putin -- if that is the only choice the cowardly "good people" of Russia provide.
Just ask "Other Russia" how many people come forth to support them when the risk their lives and freedom holding marches. Ask them how many join hands (or even write letters) to protest when they get their skulls cracked open and thrown into prison for peacefully expressing their dissent. Only after that can anyone judge Mr. Berezovsky, or any other Russian prepared to risk something to stop the second coming of the USSR.