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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky Discusses Killing, Ex-Premier




Boris Berezovsky made a flying visit to Moscow last weekend, just in time to witness the worst Kremlin bloodletting in years and to accuse some old enemies of ugly crimes, possibly even murder.


The tycoon whose talent for Kremlin intrigue has earned him the title of a latter-day Rasputin, has been in Switzerland since last month undergoing treatment after a snowmobile accident which, he said, nearly left him paralyzed.


Berezovsky is now back in Switzerland to finish his convalescence. But he found time to say in a newspaper interview that he knows who killed television journalist Vladislav Listyev.


Listyev, an immensely popular media personality and top executive at the state-owned ORT television station, was slain by a sniper March 1, 1995, in what remains one of Russia's most high-profile contract killings. No one has been charged with the murder.


"I don't want to mention names today -- I am just offering you the general direction," Berezovsky said in an interview published Wednesday in the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily. He said Listyev was killed by "special service" agents, that investigators know this and are conducting a coverup.


He went on to accuse Alexander Korzhakov, President Boris Yeltsin's former friend and bodyguard who now has a seat in parliament, of organizing several beatings and assassination attempts.


While he broadly hinted that Korzhakov was after Listyev, he steered away from directly blaming him for the killing.


"I've said enough. In the information I handed over [to investigators], the special service's hand is clearly visible," he said. "I am not talking about just hypotheses, but about real audio and video materials."


He said the person who ordered Listyev's murder was trying to win control of ORT television.


Berezovsky, who at the time of the killing was the deputy chairman of the station's board of directors, was himself one the first prime suspects in the case. Police searched his offices the day after the murder. He still has to testify in its investigation, now entering its fourth year.


And mystery still surrounds a videotape of Berezovsky handing money to security officials one day before Listyev's death.


The tape was aired on NTV television in November 1996 and was supplied to the station by Berezovsky himself. He said it showed him being blackmailed by Interior Ministry officers, who Berezovsky said knew about a plot on his life, and were in the process of selling him the details. Berezovsky said the tape was made Feb. 28, 1996, a day before Listyev's killing.


Many pundits think it is no coincidence that Berezovsky came to Moscow the weekend Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's six-year Kremlin career came to an abrupt end.


One interpretation is that the financier, upset at the terms of a the sell-off of state-owned oil company Rosneft -- a consortium including Berezovsky's Sibneft company is bidding for the company -- helped convince Yeltsin to fire Chernomyrdin.


Others speculate that Berezovsky flew in to Moscow to conduct some damage control after being tipped off that Chernomyrdin, a long-time ally, was about to be fired.


On Wednesday, Berezovsky had only fond words for the ousted prime minister, who appears to be considering a run for the presidency in the 2000 elections.


"If Chernomyrdin demonstrates will and strength, he will have a lot of supporters. His popularity is positive and great in this country and abroad," Interfax quoted Berezovsky as saying.


"He has an opportunity to fully use his potential. But then power is not given, it is taken," he said.


And he had praise, too, for Chernomyrdin's temporary replacement, Sergei Kiriyenko, whom he called "a young man full of energy."


But Berezovsky himself claimed to have no personal political ambitions. Instead, he told Komsomolskaya Pravda, he sees himself as a power broker in the next presidential elections.


"I do not have the goal to be elected somewhere, so I can afford myself the luxury of spitting on my image," Berezovsky said.