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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Conspiracy Theories Surround Tycoon




Whenever political dramas unfold in Russia, the media begin speculating that Boris Berezovsky, the country's most notorious tycoon, must be involved.


The Russian media are working overtime these days, and while evidence is scant, they claim Berezovsky's plotting and scheming has him indirectly linked to the fighting in southern Russia and the recent wave of terrorist bombings.


No one man could possibly do all the things Berezovsky has been accused of doing. The complicated conspiracy theories often have him behaving in all sorts of contradictory ways. And Berezovsky has been in the hospital for days receiving treatment for hepatitis.


But that hasn't slowed the speculation one bit.


Fed up with the reports, Berezovsky rose from his sickbed Thursday and held a news conference to denounce the stories as a "provocation'' by his opponents.


He angrily rejected speculation that he plotted with Kremlin insiders to stoke unrest in Russia that could be used as a pretext for a political crackdown.


"The situation we are dealing with today had been building up for a long time, and it peaked today,'' he said.


The Russian media have not accused Berezovsky of direct involvement in the spate of bombings in Russia. Instead, he is portrayed as a man with the money and connections to launch a complex intrigue.


The media speculation suggests he was involved in a plot to provoke fighting between Islamic militants and government troops in the southern region of Dagestan - which then escalated and led to apparent retaliatory terrorist attacks in Moscow.


The supposed goal: to discredit President Boris Yeltsin's opponents and open the way for Yeltsin's own chosen successor, current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, to take office, and keep a small circle of Kremlin aides in power after Yeltsin's term expires next summer.


"Why does Berezovsky need a war in Dagestan?'' the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets wrote. "Because with a change of power, he and his partners in crime will land in jail.''


The newspaper's editor, Pavel Gusev, said: "If you look at the chain of these bombings, their timing is rather interesting.


"We were waiting to see what would happen, because 'the family' wants to stay in power one way or another. What happened was Dagestan,'' he said on NTV television Wednesday night.


The militants in Dagestan crossed over from breakaway Chechnya, a region where Berezovsky acknowledges he has close contacts.


He served briefly as the deputy secretary of the Security Council, a post that frequently put him in touch with Chechen separatists.


His business holdings in oil also give him an interest in Chechnya's politics, because the republic is a key route for transporting oil.