‘Berezovsky was on the hook for hundreds of millions of pounds’
RT: It all remains a bit much unclear at the moment. Police have ruled out third-party involvement, but then there was no suicide note either. Where do you stand on this? Do you believe Mr. Berezovsky could have taken his own life?
Daragh McDowell: Unfortunately, the only person who can
answer that question definitively is Boris Berezovsky himself. But
he is no longer in the position to do so. Certainly the indications
coming from the British press say this does seem to have been a
suicide. A number of his friends have come forward and said that he
was very depressed and had lost meaning in the last a couple of
And, of course, these reports of his interview with the editor
of Russian Forbes on the day before his body was found, where he
admitted to not having meaning in his life and being highly
depressed. We do have to remember, that he has just lost an
extremely high-profile legal case, which, not only was there a
financial cost, but a British judge called him a liar on record. I
mean this was a broken and defeated man.
RT: It's a common thought that Berezovsky's court defeat against fellow tycoon Abramovich finally could have been what actually broke him - both financially and mentally. I even got reports that Berezovksy was going in to court with no paperwork at all. Some saying that perhaps he was just trying to do a final gamble. Do you think the case with Abramovich was what ultimately brought him his demise?
DM: Absolutely! The British legal system is extremely
expensive. Both Berezovsky and Abramovich had very expensive
high-profile legal teams. The rule is generally here is that in
these kinds of cases the loser pays the costs. So, indications are
that Berezovsky was on the hook for hundreds of millions of pounds.
He also recently had, I believe, a fairly messy divorce from his
second wife and there are numerous stories that he was under
increasing financial pressure. There was also his attempt to sell
the Warhol-Lenin portrait, which all indicates that he was trapped
for cash and didn’t see a way out.
RT: The western media's been talking of Berezovsky as 'the man who brought President Putin into power'- some are calling that farfetched How do you assess his role in history?
DM: I think it’s very difficult to say that Berezovsky
was not extremely influential in bringing Putin into power and that
he was one of the members of the Yeltsin family, who believed that
Putin would protect the assets that were gained in the
loan-for-shares scandal and these sorts of things. Funnily enough
there was in the British media there has actually been very little
mention of this outside one or two outlets.
The idea of Berezovsky is kind of brave anti-Putin dissident has
been played up a little bit more, particularly in the Guardian, but
overall I don’t think that there’s much doubt that Berezovsky
thought Putin was somebody that he could control, that he would let
Berezovsky’s previous financial dealings be water under the bridge
and, of course, President Putin said no. He stood up to the
oligarchs when he was first elected and this was the reason when
Berezovsky ultimately quit Russia.
RT: Berezovsky's been seen a quite the stumbling block in Moscow-London relations in the past decade, could there be a warming of the relationship now?
DM: Quite possibly. The very fact that Berezovsky was in
London, making periodic claims that he would fund a violent
revolution against Putin. It’s not going to be helpful for
diplomatic relations, to put that mildly, particularly when
everything was suffering, if you’ll excuse the pun, the fallout of
the Aleksandr Litvinenko affair.
So, I think it depends on how the British state reacts on this
one, how the Russian state reacts on this one. If both of them say
OK, now the issue of Berezovsky is moot, we can move on to other
things. But that’s a decision that policy makers in both capitals
will have to make for themselves over the coming days.