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Financier Reveals Listyev Case Details

Boris Berezovsky, the powerful financier recently appointed a deputy Security Council secretary, has submitted to an extraordinary television interview concerning attempts on his own life and the murder of a top television personality.

Speaking on NTV Independent Television's "Itogi" on Sunday, Berezovsky attempted to answer some criticisms leveled at him since he took his new political post. But he also entered new territory concerning the March 1995 murder of talk show host Vladislav Listyev.

Berezovsky told "Itogi" host Yevgeny Kiselyov that he was not, as has long been rumored, behind Listyev's killing. But he added that the assassination was "related immediately" to an attempt on his own life the previous year.

Describing in detail a meeting that involved his handing over money to two Interior Ministry officers and a criminal kingpin shortly before Listyev's murder, Berezovsky offered this as evidence that both the attempt on his own life and Listyev's murder had been organized by the "special services."

Listyev, a well-known television journalist and game show host who had just been appointed to head the newly-formed ORT Russian Public Television, was shot to death March 1, 1995, causing widespread shock and disgust.

Nobody has been arrested in connection with Listyev's murder, but it has often been speculated that he was killed over his proposal to declare a temporary advertising moratorium at the station until ethical standards could be worked out regarding lucrative advertising sales.

Listyev was slated to begin work at his new post April 1. Berezovsky, head of the LogoVAZ car sales concern, was deputy chairman of ORT's board of directors and the man who brought together 12 investors to buy 49 percent of the new company. The daily Moskovsky Komsomolets reported last month that LogoVAZ has an 8 percent share of ORT. The state owns 51 percent.

Berezovsky said Sunday that the murder of Listyev was "related immediately" to a June 1994 car bombing, in which the financier was slightly injured and his driver killed.

He told "Itogi" that in the middle of February 1995, two Interior Ministry officers came to his office with a "criminal world kingpin," who "offered me information about who did it and who was planning to assassinate me once again."

"He offered this information for a certain sum of money," Berezovsky said. "I asked my own security service to record the process of the handing over of money to that person. This took place in the presence of the Interior Ministry officials."

Berezovsky said he gave the video recording of the payment to "the security services" on Feb. 28, after which he flew to London on a business trip. Listyev was murdered the next day, and Berezovsky told "Itogi" he flew back to Moscow immediately after the killing.

In the early hours of the next day -- March 2 -- police conducted a search of Berezovsky's office, which the automobile magnate at the time denounced as a "provocation." That same day, President Boris Yeltsin fired Moscow's police chief and prosecutor general.

Berezovsky said Sunday that the authorities never followed up on the videotape he had given them. "I am sure, I repeat, I am sure that this was the work of the special services," Berezovsky said of the whole series of events.

Last month, MK reported that the 1994 bombing of Berezovsky's car was part of an attempt by Moscow's Solntsevo organized crime group to "redistribute" the capital's car sales market.

According to the newspaper, the group's leader, known as "Sylvester," left Russia immediately after the attempt on Berezovsky's life. In September 1994, Sylvester was killed in Moscow when a bomb blew up his car.

Berezovsky told "Itogi" he took out Israeli citizenship in 1993 -- a fact that has got him into trouble since taking the job on the Security Council -- after being pressured to get out of business and leave Russia by "both criminal structures and political forces."

"In reality, regretfully, today the distance of one from the other is not so great," he said.

The Security Council deputy secretary, who has promised to drop his business activity, said he removed himself Saturday from structures related to the AvtoVAZ car manufacturer.

"The same goes for other companies as well," he said.

Besides LogoVAZ and AvtoVAZ, Berezovsky's business interests include the All-Russian Automobile Alliance and the Sibneft oil company.

Berezovsky was asked about his recent interview with The Financial Times, in which he announced the existence of a group of seven leading bankers that had recruited Anatoly Chubais to organize Yeltsin's re-election campaign last summer.

"My opinion is as follows: strong capital -- strong country," he said, adding that he regarded the entry of major businessmen into politics "absolutely normal."

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