By Ryan Chilcote and Henry Meyer
Boris Berezovsky, the Russian billionaire granted political asylum in the U.K., said he’s channeling some of his $4 billion fortune to opponents of President Vladimir Putin in the run-up to elections.
“I am in a position to pay money underground to the opposition,” Berezovsky said in an interview in London yesterday. He said his aim is to engineer a “revolution in Russia without blood.”
A Kremlin power broker under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, Berezovsky has become a vocal opposition figure since fleeing to London in 2001 to escape fraud charges.
The U.K. granted him political asylum in 2003, saving him from extradition to Russia. While Putin cannot run in next March’s presidential elections because of a two-term limit, the Russian leader is maneuvering to keep control after he steps down. Berezovsky, 61, worth $1.1 billion according to Forbes magazine, estimated his fortune at between 2 billion and 3 billion euros ($4.4 billion). The businessman said he has assets in eastern Europe, France and the U.K., as well as Russia, though he gave no details to keep his investments secret from the Russian authorities.
“This is the question I never answer because this is exactly what the FSB is trying to investigate,” he said, referring to the Federal Security Service. “I prefer not to advertise my business and places where I invest.”
Denouncing the “Putin regime” as “criminal,” Berezovsky said the U.S. and Europe fail to recognize that authoritarian rule in Russia poses a “danger for the West.”