A Troubled Investment: Berezovsky Warns of Creeping 'Authoritarianism'

Newsweek, July 31, 2000 | Go to article overview

A Troubled Investment: Berezovsky Warns of Creeping 'Authoritarianism'


Dr. Frankenstein, meet president Putin. Boris Berezovsky was one of the men who helped put Vladimir Putin where he is today--sitting in the Kremlin as Boris Yeltsin's successor. Now, Berezovsky is recoiling in fear at what he helped create. In the autumn of last year, the then President Yeltsin, his immediate family and the so-called oligarchs--business cronies who, like Berezovsky, got rich after the collapse of the Soviet Union--feared for the future. Yeltsin's term was running out, and a left-leaning, anti-oligarch opposition was coalescing under former prime minister Yevgeny Primakov. Last summer Yeltsin's inner circle, known as "The Family," seized on Putin, then the largely unknown head of the Federal Security Service (a successor to the KGB), and made him prime minister. Two months ago they helped him win the presidency on the back of a popular war in Chechnya. For Berezovsky, a businessman who once said that his best investment in Russia in the 1990s was "in politics," everything seemed to be under control.

It has not turned out that way. Last week, as Putin moved to enhance his own power at the expense of 89 regional governors, Berezovsky moved into open opposition. With the president evidently intent on moving ahead with his oligarch hunt--a campaign that started with the brief arrest of media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky and now includes investigations of the country's largest oil and metals companies--Berezovsky has apparently seen enough. …

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A Troubled Investment: Berezovsky Warns of Creeping 'Authoritarianism'
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