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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky Charged After Questioning




Controversial tycoon Boris Berezovsky left the hospital Monday to face questioning by prosecutors, who officially notified him of three criminal charges connected with alleged corrupt business dealings.


Berezovsky, who denounced the charges as a political attack by Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, signed a promise not to leave Moscow for the duration of the investigation without permission. He vowed to immediately appeal the travel ban and said he would prove his innocence.


"This is a purely political clash," Berezovsky said, speaking to a crowd of reporters after almost four hours of questioning. He said "the spirit of Primakov" was behind the case and swore to produce documents to prove it.


Earlier this month, the Prosecutor General's Office issued an arrest warrant for Berezovsky while he was in France, saying he had set up an offshore company in Switzerland, called Andava, through which all the foreign currency revenues of Aeroflot airlines were allegedly channeled.


When Berezovsky promised on television to return to Russia to face the accusations and prove his innocence, the warrant was canceled. Berezovsky flew into Moscow on April 18 and immediately checked into the Central Clinical Hospital for what he said was further treatment of a back injury suffered last year.


Berezovsky built a fortune selling cars and then branched out into politics, serving as a Security Council deputy secretary and then as executive secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States. He earned a reputation as a master of Kremlin intrigue who used his connections with President Boris Yeltsin and his family to topple governments. But his political position appears to have eroded.


He portrays himself as a public-spirited businessman and a crusader against a feared Communist resurgence.


The charges against Berezovsky are widely seen as part of his long-standing battle with Primakov, who has waged a battle against various reportedly Berezovsky-affiliated companies, such as Aeroflot and the Sibneft oil company. Berezovsky has denied some of his reputed business connections.


ORT television, in which the tycoon plays a central role, is under threat of bankruptcy. President Boris Yeltsin also had Berezovsky fired from the post of CIS secretary three weeks ago.


Berezovsky and his lawyer, Genri Reznik, looked reassured when they emerged from the decrepit building of the prosecutor's office's investigative department in a courtyard off Myasnitskaya Ulitsa in central Moscow.


Reznik said his client was charged with "illegal entrepreneurship," money laundering and conducting business activities while in a government position. The charges were "not concrete" and "groundless," he said.


Berezovsky said investigator Nikolai Volkov did not violate the understanding that the two sides would cooperate. "I would have been really tricked if they had not let me come out of this door," he said, referring to reports that he might be arrested in the process of questioning.


Reznik said he would appeal Tuesday against Berezovsky's travel restrictions and said a written pledge to appear for questionings would be more appropriate for someone so cooperative.


"We will demonstratively achieve an unequivocal result," Berezovsky said. "I am innocent and I hope that when we prevail, others will not be treated in the same way I have been."