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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky Pledges Funds For SPS Breakaway Parties

Splinter liberal groups that refused to join the Union of Right Forces, or SPS, last weekend will receive financial backing from self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky, their leaders announced Tuesday.

State Duma deputies Sergei Yushenkov and Vladimir Golovlyov both refused to join SPS at its founding congress Saturday, saying they opposed its "servile" attitude toward the Kremlin and its insufficiently liberal charter.

They also announced they would create a new liberal party intended to become the voice of small and medium business.

Yushenkov and Golovlyov said in telephone interviews Tuesday that they met with Berezovsky in France last week and secured a pledge for funding for the new party. Both deputies declined to give figures.

According to Yushenkov, Berezovsky would finance only specific projects rather than the party as a whole. The first such project would be a congress of small and medium businessmen, which Yushenkov is planning to organize later this year.

Earlier this month, Berezovsky announced plans to form a "real" liberal opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

But both Yushenkov and Golovlyov denied their planned party was the one Berezovsky had in mind.

"As far as I know, he will soon announce the formation of his own party," Yushenkov said. "We will only cooperate … where our political goals coincide."

Berezovsky — a former Kremlin power broker who publicly broke with Putin last year — is living in self-imposed exile abroad, in part to avoid questioning in a criminal investigation into allegations of large-scale embezzlement at Aeroflot.

Vladimir Golovlyov said the SPS dissidents were also negotiating with other businessmen about helping the new group financially, but declined to give names.

Earlier, the influential president of Alfa Bank, Pyotr Aven, said he would be willing to support SPS if it became a "normal right-wing opposition" group. But Golovlyov said it was unlikely Aven would extend his help to the splinter group.

SPS's newly elected leader Boris Nemtsov responded to his colleagues' decision by saying he would not comment on "madness," adding that Yushenkov and Golovlyov are still members of SPS's Duma faction.

Yushenkov said he believed Berezovsky's motives for helping them were noble. "Now that he has lost his influence on the government, he realizes the benefits of the rule of law and the system of checks and balances."