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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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