Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has put out a warrant for the arrest of Badri Patarkatsishvili, a long-time associate of Boris Berezovsky and chairman of TV-6’s board of directors. Berezovsky controls a 75-percent share of the channel. Patarkatsishvili is accused of assisting in an alleged attempt made on April 11 by Nikolai Glushkov, former deputy director of Aeroflot and another long-time Berezovsky associate, to escape prison (see the Monitor, May 11). Glushkov was jailed last December in Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison on charges of large-scale fraud, stemming from charges that he helped embezzle funds from the Russian state airline through two Swiss companies connected to Berezovsky, Andava and Forus (see the Monitor, December 8, 2000). Glushkov was subsequently permitted to enter a Moscow hospital under guard to be treated for leukemia, and it was from there that he allegedly tried to escape. Interior Ministry officials publicly accused both Patarkatsishvili and Berezovsky as having been involved in the putative escape attempt. Prosecutors issued several summons asking Patarkatsishvili, who is residing abroad, to appear for questioning. He refused to do so. The arrest warrant was issued on June 29 after he ignored a June 20 ultimatum giving him a week to appear. Prosecutors say they might widen the manhunt for Patarkatsishvili beyond Russia (which would be logical, given that he is living abroad) using Interpol, the international crime-fighting agency.
According to several newspaper reports, investigators have tapes from phone taps on which Patarkatsishvili is heard conspiring in Glushkov’s abortive escape attempt. Patarkatsishvili’s lawyer, Andrei Borovkov, however, suggested that such tapes were either faked or doctored. If convicted, Patarkatsishvili could face up to eight years in prison.
Meanwhile, the authorities arrested another suspect in the alleged Glushkov escape plot–Andrei Lugovoi, a former major in the Federal Security Service (FSB) who in recent years headed the security service at Russian Public Television (ORT), the 51-percent state-owned channel that was once reportedly controlled by Berezovsky and his associates, including Patarkatsishvili. In the early 1990s, Lugovoi served as a bodyguard to then acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, then Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Filatov and then Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev (Polit.ru, Lenta.ru, Radio Ekho Moskvy, June 29).
…WHO CLAIMS HE IS A VICTIM OF POLITICAL PERSECUTION.