When Yevgeny Primakov was prime minister of Russia, Boris Berezovsky’s offices were raided, his employees beaten, his assets threatened with seizure and his person with arrest. His narrow escape from this near-death experience seems to have rekindled his enthusiasm for tycoonery. Since Primakov’s ouster, he is all over the headlines, opining on high politics, taunting interviewers with feigned disingenuousness and reveling in his reputation as head of “the Family” of Kremlin insiders that knows (and takes a cut) when each leaf falls or baby cries.
Some time ago Berezovsky publicly declared his interest in adding “Kommersant,” Russia’s most respected daily newspaper, to his stable of media properties. Last week “Kommersant” was sold–to American Capital Incorporated, a British Virgin Islands investment fund run by two American citizens named Kia Joorabchian and Reza Irani-Kermani. The fund, which is said to be capitalized at $50 million, spent $20 million to buy 85 percent of “Kommersant.” Berezovsky told reporters: “At least I am not aware that it [American Capital] has anything to do with me. If someone else knows something different, that would interest me.”