Berezovsky’s Death Is Unlikely to Be Mourned in Russia

Posted: March 28, 2013 by Ellion hossain in News
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Boris A. Berezovsky was found dead near London.

 

MOSCOW — At the end of his extravagant, intrigue-filled and ultimately solitary life, Boris A. Berezovsky, the post-Soviet robber baron who was the consummate Kremlin insider before he became a detested outcast, wondered if he would have been better off had he never fled Russia for England, if he had been thrown in jail like his fellow oligarch-turned-inmate, the oil tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, another antagonist of President Vladimir V. Putin who remains in a northern Russia prison camp.

“Khodorkovsky preserved himself,” Mr. Berezovsky said, almost admiringly, to a columnist for Forbes’s Russian edition on Friday, the day before his apparent suicide.

But if Mr. Berezovsky felt torn, here in Russia — the homeland he claimed to long for, and where his death has been an obsessive topic of conversation, on television and the Internet, around dinner tables and office coolers — there is no such conflict.

Instead, there is a clear sense that Mr. Berezovsky will be little missed except perhaps for the entertainment value that he occasionally provided with his penchant for audacity. If he is remembered at all, it will be for the role he played in the post-Communist 1990s — an era that many Russians would just as soon forget.

“His death is a logical conclusion of his life; all his life he lived only for himself,” Aleksandr Khinshtein, a member of Parliament and the author of “Berezovsky and Abramovich: Oligarchs From the Open Road,” wrote in a remembrance on the Internet news site Lenta.ru. “His entire conscious life, he worked not for creation but for destruction.”

A spokesman for Mr. Putin, Dmitri S. Peskov, said he did not know the president’s immediate reaction to Mr. Berezovsky’s death. “But one can say that news of anyone’s death, no matter what kind of person they were, cannot arouse any positive emotions.”

Then again.

“I don’t have good words for Berezovsky,” said Gennadi A. Zyuganov, the longtime leader of Russia’s Communist Party, who called Mr. Berezovsky “a typical spawn of the awful 1990s.”

Mr. Zyuganov added: “He had good mathematical education, not bad capabilities. He could have become a decent scientist or the head of a major institute. But instead he became a ‘purse’ of Yeltsin’s family.”

Mr. Berezovsky promoted the idea that he had a central role in the rise of Mr. Putin as the successor to Boris N. Yeltsin. And though his true role is a matter of debate, in the end Mr. Putin’s opponents hated him for it, while Putin supporters refused to acknowledge Mr. Berezovsky as anything but an exiled robber baron — and not a particularly talented one.

Whatever the truth, Mr. Berezovsky was a top Kremlin insider when Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. agent, was appointed prime minister, putting him in line for the presidency when Yeltsin resigned.

“According to some evidence it was Berezovsky who created Putin,” Andrei Kolesnikov wrote in the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. “Maybe there is some exaggeration in this. But that he was holding the candle when the very idea of placing, as an insider said, a ‘sane Chekist’ to the Czardom in Russia is a medical fact.”

Yeltsin, who died in 2007, was the person who gave Mr. Berezovsky access to power. But even Yeltsin did not like him.

“I never liked and I don’t like Boris Abramovich,” Yeltsin wrote in his final memoir, “Midnight Diaries.”

“I did not like him for his self-assured tone, for his scandalous reputation, for the fact that he is ascribed some special influence on the Kremlin, which has never been the case,” Yeltsin wrote. “I didn’t like him, but always wanted to keep him somewhere close.”

At the same time, Yeltsin called him an “undisputed ally” both “of the president and of the democratic reforms in general.”

Even if Mr. Berezovsky, to the end, professed a desire for the development of a democratic Russia, he was known for engaging in all sorts of less-than-democratic machinations on behalf of the Russian government. Those included payoffs to various combatants — particularly ransoms for kidnappings — during Russia’s war in Chechnya in the mid-1990s.

Mr. Berezovsky was also associated with many mysterious developments in modern Russian history, including the fatal radiation poisoning of his friend, the ex-K.G.B. officer Alexander V. Litvinenko, in 2006. His close business partner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, died under uncertain circumstances in 2008.

But even as many in Russia viewed him as sinister, a constant cast of supporting actors relied on him for financial support — not just his two ex-wives and an estranged girlfriend, his six children and his staff, including bodyguards and drivers, but also Mr. Litvinenko’s widow and others. For them, he was a protector, benefactor and employer — roles that he was increasingly unable to fill given his continuing legal and financial problems.

In that sense, he may have hinted at the unfulfilled promise of the industrial titans of post-Soviet Russia, a hope that like the Carnegies and Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, they would eventually become great philanthropists and establish a tradition of private-sector support in arenas once dominated by the Communist state.

Alexei Venediktov, the editor of Echo of Moscow radio, said that Mr. Berezovsky’s death would deprive his foes of a worthy adversary.

“Berezovsky added spice to their lives, including Putin,” Mr. Venediktov wrote. “After all, in history, our weight is determined by the weight of our enemies.”

Source:http://www.nytimes.com

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s