Washington, D.C., October 12, 2005 - Exiled Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky told the Voice of America (VOA) today that a return to democratic reforms is doubtful in Russia without stronger political will from the opposition, but he predicted Russia would eventually build a democratic society.
Berezovsky, who acquired his wealth by taking control of state assets after the fall of communism, fled the country in 2000 under pressure. He was charged in absentia with financial crimes but was subsequently granted political asylum by a British court that protects him from extradition back to Russia. Although he has given few interviews in recent years out of fear that he might be kidnapped and returned against his will to face trial in Russia, Berezovsky participated in VOA Russian's daily live radio call-in show.
Asked about the accusations against him, Berezovsky said, "I am the most transparent businessman in the world." He told VOA, "I have been persecuted by the Russian authorities, and investigated by the British, who chose to give me political asylum."
Although he accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of betraying former President Boris Yeltsin's reform movement, Berezovsky predicted that, "in a short time, Russia will start again to build a democratic society. The past two centuries have shown that democracy is far better than autocracy for Russia." He concluded, "It is inevitable that Russia will democratize -- either that or it will disappear."
In addition to its daily call-in show, VOA Russian broadcasts a daily 30-minute television program Obektiv (Focus); a daily, one-hour radio news program Sobitiya i Razmyshleniya (Events and Opinions); and a weekly 30-minute TV show, Okno v Mir (Window on the World). Programs are also available on the Internet at www.VOANews.com/Russian.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages.
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