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Berezovsky was trying to buy Abkhazia?26.03.2013 | 11:53
What did link the late Boris Berezovsky with Georgia, and does the country remember him? It turns out that the oligarch had a number of ambitious plans for Georgia. In particular, he participated in the negotiations relating the settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. What was Berezovsky's vision of settlement these and other problems? Georgian politicians and experts, personally acquainted with Berezovsky, recall this today.
Disgraced Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who was found dead on Saturday evening at his country house in England, was also known in Georgia under the name Platon Elenin. Under this name he has several times crossed the border of the country - he came to Tbilisi from London. Berezovsky was tied with Georgia through his closest business partner - Badri Patarkatsishvili. After the death of Georgian oligarch in 2008, Berezovsky had legal proceedings with Patarkatsishvili's heirs for a long time, but in September 2012 they signed a "peace treaty" which legally confirmed the absence of mutual claims between the parties.
The former head of the State Chancellery of Georgia Petre Mamradze recalls that in late 90's Boris Berezovsky often visited Georgia - mostly with informal visits, which were not covered by the media. "Working in the State Chancellery of Georgia, I often met with Boris Berezovsky," Mamradze said in an interview to GeorgiaTimes. "I often met him at the airport in Tbilisi, sometimes he arrived with Badri Patarkatsishvili, and sometimes alone. That time he served as Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, and later - the CIS Executive Secretary. One of the most interesting episodes is related to Abkhazia. That time Berezovsky wanted to take possession of the health resorts on the coast of Abkhazia, including former health resorts under the Central Committee in Pitsunda. He was going to agree with Vladislav Ardzinba offering him a share of the business, and also to enlist the support of the Georgian authorities. I remember, just for one day he flew three times from Sukhum to Tbilisi and back, discussed the matter with Ardzinba and then with Shevardnadze. Eventually he arrived to Tbilisi airport and said the following: "No, guys, I have failed. Apparently, we have to give up Abkhazia," Mamradze told us.
Memories of the former head of the State Chancellery are associated with 1998. There was a rumor that Berezovsky and Shevardnadze came up with a plan for the return of Abkhazia under Georgian jurisdiction. The idea was that Berezovsky, in agreement with the leadership of Abkhazia and Georgia, buys most part of the resort infrastructure on the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia and gets right to manage this property for 25 years. At the same time, the parties sign a contract, and in fact Abkhazia returns under Tbilisi's jurisdiction. And after 25 years, this Berezovsky's property becomes the property of Georgia.
"Berezovsky saw everything through the prism of self-interest. Indeed, this resort area is unique, and that's why Berezovsky decided to lay his hands on it. As he once took possession of the "Aeroflot", "Sibneft". However, it was necessary to give his activities political entourage. But since Vladislav Ardzinba refused to discuss the possibility of a shared jurisdiction with Tbilisi, Berezovsky has failed", says Mamradze.
"Generally, Berezovsky spoke with me very confidentially," Mamradze adds. "Especially when he learned that my profession was physicist. He always emphasized that he likes to chat with a Russian-speaking man, like me. Once, in the presence of Patarkatsishvili, he said, "Well, all over the globe I cannot find such a place, such a small country where such nice people like me and Badri would feel comfortable." He was original man, of course, and often said interesting phrases."
- Can you confirm that Boris Berezovsky wanted to bring Badri Patarkatsishvili to power in Georgia?
- Of course, Patarkatsishvili made such efforts, but I do not know whether Berezovsky took part in this process. If we consider their close relationship, it is possible. Generally, Patarkatsishvili was a man who spent his own money on such ideas. Most likely, that was other people's money, including Berezovsky, who wanted Patarkatsishvili to be in power in Georgia. But in this process the interests of Russia played an important role. It is possible that Patarkatsishvili and Berezovsky wanted to make peace with Putin, and their activity in Georgia against Saakashvili pursued this aim.
But political expert Soso Tsiskarishvili has the information that Berezovsky had contacts with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili. "Despite the fact that the former Georgian authorities have often accused the opposition of having links with Boris Berezovsky, they themselves have had contact with him, although their content is unknown to me," Tsiskarishvili said in an interview to GeorgiaTimes. "Saakashvili said that Berezovsky had financed anti-government protests in Georgia but that did not prevent Boris Abramovich from visiting Georgia and meeting with officials. So it is possible that in the future we can learn many interesting facts about Berezovsky's connections with various structures of Georgia," said Tsiskarishvili.