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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fired Editor Accuses Berezovsky of Threats

Vitaly Tretyakov, the founder and former editor of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, came out Friday to accuse Boris Berezovsky, who controls the newspaper, of threatening his life because of his refusal to give up his minority stake.

Tretyakov, who was sacked in June, said a representative of Berezovsky's gave him a month to decide whether to sell his 20 percent stake in the paper during a meeting Tuesday.

"I was told: It's unclear why you're so calm. ... The full control of Nezavisimaya Gazeta depends on one person -- you. If there's a person, there's a problem. ... Imagine you walk outside and a brick drops on your head," a visibly nervous Tretyakov told a news conference.

According to his account, the representative, whom Tretyakov declined to identify, said Berezovsky and his entourage would do nothing to harm him, but they could sell their stake to a third party with its own methods of convincing Tretyakov to relinquish control.

The representative's name was reported Saturday by the Kommersant daily, also controlled by Berezovsky.

In a brief interview, Yuly Dubov, deputy director of LogoVAZ, the car dealership founded by Berezovsky, said he spoke with Tretyakov on Tuesday.

"I will not drop bricks on him," Dubov was quoted as saying.

Dubov said the meeting was on "ensuring his [Tretyakov's] interests" after his dismissal, according to Kommersant.

"I appreciated that he did not mention my last name," Dubov said. "But he did not do this out of altruism. It was done to make [the allegations] scarier."

Tretyakov said he viewed the threats as psychological pressure; nonetheless, he has hired three bodyguards and said he would send the bill to Berezovsky.

Berezovsky, now living abroad in self-imposed exile, sacked Tretyakov over disagreements about editorial policy shortly after announcing his intention to create an opposition party in Russia.

"My dismissal is fair and it would be ridiculous to argue with it," Tretyakov said, referring to Berezovsky's right as the majority shareholder to fire him, but he added that the tycoon cannot consider the newspaper his property.

Tretyakov said 80 percent of Nezavisimaya is owned by the joint-stock company Redaktsia Nezavisimoi Gazety, formed in 1996 by Berezovsky-controlled Obyedinyonny Bank. But the remaining 20 percent, he said, belong to a non-commercial organization also called Redaktsia Nezavisimoi Gazety, formed by Tretyakov and 14 other members of the editorial team in 1994.

He said the noncommercial organization -- where Tretyakov is editor and general director -- transferred the right to publish the newspaper to the joint-stock company for an indefinite time, while retaining the rights to the paper's brand name, supplements, photo agency and publishing house. The noncommercial organization is also the legal entity that rents the newspaper's offices.

Tretyakov said that since his ouster, the newspaper's new leadership has repeatedly asked him to sign and stamp various bureaucratic documents. Meanwhile, he cannot retrieve documents related to his noncommercial organization from Nezavisimaya's offices.

Tretyakov said his foes have no legal means of forcing him to give up control of the noncommercial organization.

No one could be reached for comment at Nezavisimaya on Friday.

Later in the day, media reported that Tretyakov had been appointed to the board of ORT television, controlled until recently by Berezovsky. (See story on this page.) Dubov suggested in the Kommersant interview that the appointment was compensation from Berezovsky's opponents for Tretyakov's allegations.

Since his dismissal, Tretyakov has been working on new projects in print and television. Last month, he registered nine publications with the Press Ministry.