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Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Russian tycoon loses status symbols
Boris Berezovsky
Mr Berezovsky says he will not give in to blackmail
The Russian businessman and media tycoon Boris Berezovsky has been stripped of his dacha and the government number plates on his limo.


Thus passes worldly glory

Moskovsky Komsomolets
Correspondents say that both are key status symbols in modern Russia. The elite prefer out-of-town residences to city apartments.

Mr Berezovksy, who was a member of president Boris Yeltsin's inner circle, has fallen from grace since President Putin took over in January.

On Tuesday he was questioned by prosecutors in connection with the alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars from the national airline, Aeroflot.

'Forced out'

Mr Berezovsky complained that, on returning from abroad, he was forced to book into a hotel like an ordinary business traveller.

Vladimir Putin
President Putin is cracking down on Russia's oligarchs
He said he had been forced out of his palatial government-owned country residence, for which he said he paid $500,000 a year, at short notice.

The Kremlin's chief property manager, Vladimir Kozhin, confirmed that Mr Berezovsky had been asked to leave.

He said there were no political reasons for ending the contract and that his office simply needed the dacha for "other purposes".


This is how the system moves against those who have fallen out with it

Moskovsky Komsomolets
However correspondents disagreed. They said it was a clear sign of Mr Berezovsky's political disgrace.

"Thus passes worldly glory," said the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper gleefully.

"In Russia the scenario is always the same - presidential property managers arrive at the former celebrity's dacha and ask him to vacate the premises."

It went on: "This is how the system moves against those who have fallen out with it."

'Warning'

Yevgeny Volk, head of an influential think-tank, said the Kremlin was warning Mr Berezovsky to drop his opposition to the Putin government and leave the country, like his fellow "oligarch" Vladimir Gusinsky.

"The authorities don't want those two to remain here. Their interference in Russian politics appears dangerous for the Kremlin," Mr Volk said.

Mr Berezovsky himself has accused President Putin of hounding him for political reasons.

"But I don't give into blackmail," he said.

Mr Putin has promised to restrict the political influence of the "oligarchs" and to abolish the system of crony capitalism that helped them accumulate their wealth.

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28 Mar 00 | Business
Russia's new oligarchs
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