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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Berezovsky Speaks

The BBC show "Hard Talk" sat down with exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky for a one-on-one 20-minute interview (in English) which you can download and listen to here. It's a hostile interview, and nobody can claim the reporter is a patsy of the oligarch. Berezovsky calls Putin a "traitor" who used to be his "friend" but breached his trust. He says he is sure Putin ordered the killing of Alexander Litvinenko based on what he was told by the stricken man, who he found reliable based on prior experience. He also states that Polonium could not be used without state involvement and that it is suspicious how Russia protects those accused of the murder by British authority. Attacked by the reporter with the claim that he personally benefited from the killing, Berezovsky calmly points out that Scotland Yard formally investigated the killing and indicated Andrei Lugovoi, whom the Kremlin refuses to produce for trial. Nobody can deny this point; there is no hint of evidence from the British investigators that Berezovsky was involved, and if Lugovoi can implicate him then the Kremlin is protecting Berezovsky from that implication. The reporter seriously mischaracterizes Scotland Yard's level of interest in Lugovoi, saying that he was only wanted for for questioning, and Berezovsky calmly refutes him.

Confronted with his quoted remark about favoring violent action against Putin, Berezovsky states that there was a "misunderstanding" and that he had indicated "force" in the context of Ukraine and Georgia, where the public refused to accept the imposition of corrupt, anti-democratic regimes. The interviewer points out that there is no basis in Berezovsky's background to believe that he himself is a true "democrat," including his "mentoring" of Putin in the early days and his huge profits from oligarchy. Berezovsky wonders what the word "democracy" means in Russia, where in the first four presidential elections the only serious rival to the incumbent was a card-carrying communist. He makes the valid point, emphasized by Yeltsin, that it was necessary to disperse state assets rapidly due to the risk of a return to an authoritarian regime, and nobody can deny that this occurred (nor can they, of course, deny that Berezovsky is fundamentally corrupt -- perhaps as corrupt as the current president of Russia). The interviewer claims that "the public wants transparancy" -- yet he ignores the fact that Mikhail Khodorkovsky was actively pursuing Western-style transparancy at Yukos when he was arrested on bogus charges and sent to Siberia. Certainly, Putin's new oil firms that have seized the Yukos assets cannot be claimed by any thinking person to have pursued transparancy. The interviewer points out that Berezovsky has been attacked by the lunatic George Soros, clearly a strong point in his favor (Berezovsky points out that Soros lost money in Russia, and may be a sore loser).

Confronted with Putin's approval ratings, Berezovsky agrees that Putin has public support. The interviewer questions the legitimacy of attacking Putin given this support, but Berezovsky effectively nullifies this argument, pointing out that the West opposed the USSR despite "elections" where the Communists won huge majorities.

Asked why he does not return to Russia to face Putin's charges if he is innocent as he claims, Berezovsky, Berezovsky reminds the interviewer that he was granted political asylum in Britain in the first place specifically because the Russian government would not give him justice but rather would persecute him for political reasons.

The interviewer also raises the question of Berezovsky's financial support for the "Other Russia" coalition, confronting him with the fact that Garry Kasparov has said the organization receives such support from him. Berezovsky does not attempt to claim he has ever directly funded Other Russia. He flatly denies it. In fact, he states that Kasparov asked him for support three years ago and Berezovsky refuse, concluding Kasparov was "not tough enough" to deserve it or to become a national Russian leader. According to an interview with Kommersant, Berezovsky merely told the paper that he merely "finances 'a number of people who are the Other Russia members,' and some of them are leaders of the movements that form the coalition. The emigrant refused to name those people, underlining that he “provokes the opposition members on purpose, so that they say the truth themselves." If one gives money to a firefighter collecting money with his boot at a traffic light, one is not therefore supporting the Republican Party of which that firefighter happens to be a member.

1 comment:

Ricki said...

Thank God for Berezovsky, I wish him the best and would love to meet him.
an admirer, Ricki