Boris Berezovsky

This article is about Boris Berezovsky the Russian businessman, and not Boris Berezovsky the pianist.

Boris Abramovich Berezovsky (Бори́с Абра́мович Березо́вский) (born January 23, 1946) (Note: Boris Berezovsky is now officially known as Platon Elenin by the British Home Office [1] ( is a Russian businessman. He was the most famous of the 1990s Russian oligarchs and Russia's first billionaire.

Berezovsky was born to a Jewish family in Moscow. He studied forestry and then applied mathematics, receiving his doctorate in 1983 and becoming an associate member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1991. Berezovsky started in business in 1989 under perestroika by buying and reselling automobiles from state manufacturer AutoVAZ. During the lawlessness of the early 1990s Berezovsky, like many businessmen, was targeted by the Russian mafia for extortion. He survived several assassination attempts, including a 1994 car bomb attack. During the presidency of Boris Yeltsin, Berezovsky was one of the businessmen who gained access to the president. He used this access to acquire stakes in state companies including AutoVAZ itself, state airline Aeroflot, and several oil properties that he organized into Sibneft. He organized a bank to finance his operations and acquired several news media holdings. These media provided essential support for Yeltsin's reelection in 1996.

Berezovsky is a leading proponent of political and economic liberalization in Russia. For this reason he has frequently entered into politics by investing in liberal media, financing liberal candidates, making political statements, and even seeking office himself. He was briefly secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Independent States and later a member of the Duma. He strongly opposed the Second Chechen War but nonetheless supported Vladimir Putin's 2000 presidential campaign as an alternative to left-wing and right-wing extremism. Putin did not welcome Berezovsky's views on Chechnya or his political influence. Fearing arrest, Berezovsky moved to London, where he was granted political asylum. Putin's government has successfully pressured Berezovsky to sell many of his business holdings and has attempted to prosecute Berezovsky on fraud and political corruption charges, but it has been unable to extradite him. Berezovsky continues to support liberalization from abroad, but his influence is limited.

Berezovsky's image among Russians is generally poor; many consider him the most unlawful and unethical of the oligarchs and blame him especially for the country's economic collapse. A 1996 Forbes magazine article titled "Godfather of the Kremlin?" portrayed Berezovsky as a mafia boss who had his rivals murdered. Berezovsky sued the magazine for libel, and the dispute was ultimately settled with the magazine retracting both claims. The article's author, Paul Klebnikov, subsequently became the editor of the Russian edition of Forbes and was murdered in Moscow on 9 July 2004. He was reportedly shot four times as he left work and died shortly thereafter.

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