Tags: Russian | Billionaire | Says | Was | Wrong | Help | Elect

Russian Billionaire Says He Was Wrong to Help Elect Putin

Tuesday, 28 November 2000 12:00 AM

In his first public announcement since he said last week that he will not return to Moscow, Berezovsky said in an interview with the British newspaper The Independent, that Putin "is between the powers of nationalism and dictatorship."

"I helped Putin in his election campaign. But when I realized his words and deeds are different, I knew I was wrong," he said.

Berezovsky has said he helped elect Putin by providing favorable coverage on ORT, the most-watched television station in Russia. Berezovsky's financial interests include 49 percent of the ORT state television channel.

But in the newspaper interview, which was conducted in New York City, the Russian billionaire said Putin has underestimated the extent of change in recent years.

"He doesn't believe society is ready for democracy. He said to me, 'Boris, they're not ready.' But I think differently. In the past 10 years, millions have become independent."

Russia has accused Berezovsky of skimming hundreds of millions of dollars from the national airline, Aeroflot, and channeling the funds into Swiss accounts. Berezovsky has dismissed the investigation as being politically motivated and says he will not return to Moscow until his his name is cleared.

"I prefer to be a political migr than a political prisoner," he told the Independent. He insists Putin ordered prosecutors to open the Aeroflot case against him, and said he fears for his personal safety.

He said ORT had backed Putin in last year's presidential election, using money from firms linked to Aeroflot.

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In his first public announcement since he said last week that he will not return to Moscow, Berezovsky said in an interview with the British newspaper The Independent, that Putin is between the powers of nationalism and dictatorship. I helped Putin in his election...
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2000-00-28
Tuesday, 28 November 2000 12:00 AM
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