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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Self-Exiled Berezovsky Accuses Putin of Skewering Democracy

Pining for his once-immense political influence, Boris Berezovsky on Thursday lamented that he spent part of his fortune on boosting President Vladimir Putin, who has turned his back on him.

Berezovsky accused Putin of skewering democracy and dissent — but dismissed concerns that his own influence-peddling under former President Boris Yeltsin was in any way undemocratic.

"There are huge damages to the world that I tried to create over the last 10 years, and I mean not only time and material help, but money," Berezovsky said Thursday in an interview. "There are huge damages from what Putin has done to me over the past year."

Berezovsky is in self-imposed exile in New York to avoid a criminal investigation that he calls politically motivated.

He claimed to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to finance Putin's election this spring and to have helped win an unspecified sum from two Swiss companies targeted in the investigation. The Kremlin has denied the claim.

"I gave my own money, not just from my companies but from my own pocket to … support the presidential campaign. It was hundreds of thousands of dollars," Berezovsky said. "Putin's election campaign received money from Forus and Andava, which I founded to help Aeroflot."

But since Putin's election, Berezovsky has fallen from Kremlin favor and is under criminal investigation, which he says proves Putin's slide toward authoritarianism.

"I regret that the president turned so short-sighted and weak," he said. "He got scared of an opposition, and reverted to his old-school KGB ways."

Andava and Forus, the companies Berezovsky said financed Putin's campaign, are suspected of misappropriating $970 million from Aeroflot. Berezovsky has ignored summons for questioning in the case.

"It was all clean. These companies made a profit like any successful Western company," he insisted.