Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Davos Pact

On 27 February 2012, the Russian Oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, posted this message on Facebook: (translated from the original Russian)
“Up until today, I did not plan to open Facebook, did not want to live in social networks. Yesterday, on Forgiveness Sunday, I decided to repent… Unrighteous deeds I committed consciously and even more, not knowing what I was doing… I know that many of my actions are condemned by you, the people of Russia…

I repent and ask for forgiveness for greed. I longed for riches, not thinking that this is to the detriment of others… I forgot about fellow citizens… I'm sorry. I repent and ask for forgiveness for I trampled free speech… I determined the policy of the Central Office of Information and neglected democratic values. My actions have begun the destruction of independent journalism… I'm sorry…

I repent and ask for forgiveness for what led to the power of Vladimir Putin.”
Bit of a sorrowfully unapologetic stilletto in the ribs of Russia’s President there, methinks.

On 6 April 2013, The Daily Mail published an article drawn from the book, ‘Fragile Empire’ by Ben Judah. In this, the author quotes from a similarly repentant interview the Oligarch granted him shortly before his death. Berezovsky says:
“We didn’t think about others, about those who were not ready for the transition, or who couldn’t make it at all. We didn’t recognise at the time how dangerous it was to split society, how much jealousy and violence that would engender… Those left behind were not as sophisticated or as creative as us… but they were not bad…

We, the class that was more advanced in feelings, creativity and understanding of the future, did not take responsibility. We just focused on making more and more money.”
In the article, Ben Judah says this of Berezovsky‘s courtroom tussle with Roman Abramovich and its aftermath:
“Last August, Berezovsky lost his legal battle and received a damning character assessment from the judge in the process. He cut himself off and changed his number. Bankruptcy loomed. He had a stint at the Priory clinic and was prescribed antidepressants. Paintings were put up for sale. Buried in debt, he was asking friends for £3,300 ($5,000) to ‘fly somewhere’.”
Interesting, perhaps, that Berezovsky should begin feeling guilty about his behaviours at a time when he saw defeat in the courts and bankruptcy looming. The man whom ‘Forbes Magazine’ once described as the head of the Russian Mafia wasn’t always so penintent.

Ben Judah continues:
“It was Davos, 1996... The new year had dawned, the global economy was shaping up well, and the world’s powerbrokers were convening for their annual Swiss get-together…

Almost alone among the jostling throng of ministers and moguls, the Russian delegation was in a state of near hysteria. Boris Yeltsin, President of Russia and the man who presided over the Wild-West capitalism sweeping that vast land, was heading for defeat, a catastrophe for the alliance of gangster tycoons and corrupt politicians now huddled in their hotel suites. If Yeltsin lost they, too, could lose everything. If communists returned to power through the ballot box, their fortunes would be confiscated.
And their response was drastic: they would stop at nothing, they said, to save Yeltsin and the 1996 election. The youngest of these new oligarchs, as they were becoming known, was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a banker on the make.

Also present was the media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky. But the biggest of the ‘big three’ was a tubby mathematics professor, a personal friend to Yeltsin called Boris Berezovsky, and it was he who hatched the ‘Davos Pact’.

Together, they fixed the election, harnessing the power of broadcasters and the government bureaucracy to campaign for their drunken president.

As Berezovsky later put it, ‘we raped the media’. And in return, they secured the bargain of the century, carving out hunks of Russia’s extraordinary natural wealth for their own personal use…

As Davos 1996 convened, the new Russian democracy was falling to bits. Gunfire could be heard from the Kremlin at night. Hospitals were running out of medicine. State support for schools, fire services and much else collapsed. Poverty swallowed up 40 per cent of the population."
Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky and Berezovsky are all Jewish. As is, Roman Abramovich, the only other Oligarch mentioned in Judah’s Daily Mail article.

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