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Exiled Oligarch Does Business With Bush’s Brother

Published: October 11, 2005 (Issue # 1112)


MOSCOW — Kremlin outcast Boris Berezovsky and Neil Bush, the scandal-tainted brother of the U.S. president, have joined forces in an educational software company that they are trying to promote in the former Soviet Union.

With the unusual partnership, many believe Berezovsky has succeeded in further annoying President Vladimir Putin, who counts George W. Bush as a friend.

The investment in Bush’s company, Ignite!, also sees him joining a well-connected group of former and current shareholders such as former President George H.W. Bush and major Asian and Middle East financiers, at a time when Berezovsky claims he has been struggling to gain permission to travel to the United States.

The flip side for Berezovsky is that he has become a shareholder in a U.S. company that has come under criticism in the United States for dumbing down schoolwork and for peddling political ties.

In recent months, Berezovsky has helped Neil Bush take his company on a tour of countries from the former Soviet Union that have spun out of Moscow’s sphere of influence. First stop was Ukraine in June, where Berezovsky said he had “masses of friends” who helped Bush find his way. Then a few days later was Georgia, where Berezovsky’s longtime partner and Tbilisi power broker Badri Patarkatsishvili was on hand to wine and dine the U.S. president’s brother. Last month, they were in Latvia.

“He asked me to think about possible projects in the regions that I know about,” Berezovsky said of Bush’s expansion plans for the company he founded in 1999. “I’ve known this region for a long time. The CIS is my area of expertise.”

Berezovsky, a former Kremlin king-maker who had extensive business interests in Russia, served a stint as executive secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States under former President Boris Yeltsin. He became an archenemy of the Kremlin after falling out with Putin shortly after his election in 2000.

Since fleeing for Britain, where he has been granted political asylum, Berezovsky has continued to irk the Kremlin by funding anti-Putin activities and by emerging as a possible string puller in revolutions that brought pro-Western leaders to power in Georgia and Ukraine. In Latvia, one of his charitable foundations funds pro-Western programs aimed at the Russian-speaking community.

When Berezovsky turned up with Bush in Latvia two weeks ago, Russia’s patience frayed. Once again, prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to have him extradited to Moscow, where he is wanted on charges of fraud.

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Monday, Jan. 26


Feeling stressed by the crisis? The Northwest Coach University at 3 Ulitsa Vostsstanaya is hosting a master class by lifecoach Tatiana Almazova. She will shed light on the coaching process, the usefulness of coaching during times of economic downturn and how coaching can improve your career and business prospects. The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Pre-register by calling 424 3700.



Discover the State Hermitage Museum's collection of English painting at a lecture by art historian Yelizaveta Renne at the Prince Galitzine Library, 46 Nab. Reki Fontanki. The event starts at 6 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a concert of arias, songs and duets by English composer Henry Purcell. The event is free of charge.



Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



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