Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Few Russians Miss Dead Exiled Tycoon ; Berezovsky, Who Fled to Britain, Is Widely Seen as Dark Symbol of 1990s

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Few Russians Miss Dead Exiled Tycoon ; Berezovsky, Who Fled to Britain, Is Widely Seen as Dark Symbol of 1990s

Article excerpt

There is a clear sense that Boris A. Berezovsky will be little missed in his native country except perhaps for the entertainment value that he occasionally provided with his penchant for audacity.

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 Y. 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. …

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