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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky Mulls Forming Own Party




Fresh on the heels of his public opposition to President Vladimir Putin's plans to assert control over the regions, Boris Berezovsky has put forward the idea of forming his own political party.


In an interview published Saturday in his Kommersant newspaper, Berezovsky, who holds a seat in the State Duma, announced plans to form a party of "constructive opposition" to an "authoritarian" presidency.


He said the base of the party's support would be the regional leaders. "Today only the governors are capable of consolidating the political elites," Berezovsky said. "That is proved by the creation of the Fatherland-All Russia bloc and Unity movement. Now the governors are threatened the most, so it is they who have every chance of creating a new political party."


Last year, Berezovsky claimed to be behind the creation of Unity, a pro-Kremlin party.


Some politicians and political analysts were critical Monday of Berezovsky's initiative.


They said Berezovsky has become estranged from the Kremlin's inner circle and was trying to improve his bargaining position.


Berezovsky said he has discussed his idea for a new party with governors Yegor Stroyev of Oryol, Eduard Rossel of Yekaterinburg, Alexander Rutskoi of Kursk, Dmitry Ayatskov of Saratov and others. He also said he would try to form a Duma faction by attracting deputies away from existing factions.


Deputy Speaker Vladimir Lukin of the Yabloko faction said Berezovsky was seeking the support of regional leaders because he has lost the Kremlin's support.


"Certainly as a smart man, [Berezovsky] realized that governors have strong levers of defending their lobbyist, half-feudal, half-bureaucratic interests," Lukin was quoted by Interfax as saying.


Viktor Pokhmelkin, deputy head of the Union of Right Forces, said Berezovsky's odds of forming a Duma faction are "utterly insignificant." Thirty-five deputies are needed to form a faction, and there are not that many who would want to be associated with Berezovsky, he said.


Vyacheslav Nikonov, director of Politika, a research center close to Fatherland, said Berezovsky's initiative should be viewed in the context of his shattered status as a Kremlin insider.


"If plans for a party truly exist, they are intended to test the support among voters and to create a situation in which any attack on Berezovsky's property would be seen as a political attack," Nikonov said. "This improves his position in negotiations with the Kremlin."