The tycoon Boris Berezovsky left the hospital yesterday to answer questions at the Prosecutor General’s Office, where he was officially informed of the criminal charges against him, which involve the alleged illegal channeling of revenues of Aeroflot airlines through a Swiss company. His lawyer Henry Reznik said that Berezovsky, formerly executive secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States, was charged with “illegal entrepreneurship,” money laundering and carrying out private business activities while in government service. The questioning lasted far longer than Berezovsky and Reznik had expected; afterwards the tycoon claimed that “the spirit of [Prime Minister Yevgeny] Primakov” was behind the case against him, which he called “a purely political clash.” Reznik said that the charges were “groundless” (Russian agencies, April 26).
Interestingly, Berezovsky confirmed today that following his questioning yesterday, he went to the Russian White House–the offices of the cabinet of ministers–and met for two-and-a-half hours with Primakov. He would not say, however, what he and the prime minister discussed (Russian agencies, April 27).
Berezovsky has charged that the criminal investigations into his business empire–which reportedly includes Aeroflot, the Sibneft oil company, the LogoVAZ car dealership and other holdings–were part of an antibusiness campaign launched by Primakov and members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF). The tycoon has called for a ban on the KPRF, which he says is a fascist organization, and has charged that Primakov is a totalitarian.
Berezovsky is expected to be asked to answer more questions following Russia’s May holidays. He has been banned from traveling abroad without permission for the duration of the investigation, which some observers said could last the rest of the year (Russian agencies, April 26; Moscow Times, April 27).
An arrest warrant was originally issued for Berezovsky, but was dropped after he agreed to return from France to submit to questioning. Berezovsky almost immediately entered the hospital with back problems after arriving in Russia.
PRIMAKOV VISIT TO VLADIKAVKAZ REPORTEDLY TIED TO PLANNED YELTSIN-MASKHADOV MEETING.