Berezovsky 'funded revolution'

Andrew Osborn
Saturday 12 November 2005 01:00
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Boris Berezovsky, the UK-based Russian oligarch, has embarrassed the Ukrainian President Viktor Yush-chenko by claiming to have heavily financed last year's orange revolution.

Mr Berezovsky said he gave significant funds to Mr Yushchenko's closest associates and he is furious those aides are now denying they took his money. He has also said he wants to know how his money was spent and is threatening to sue the aides unless they make a personal apology and admit they took his cash. Ukrainian and Russian media claim he gave about $21m (£12m).

Mr Yushchenko's team fear an admission would spoil the public's perception of the event as a spontaneous display of people power. Mr Berezovsky's involvement would also confirm a belief that the revolution was aimed at damaging neighbouring Russia's interests. The oligarch is wanted in Russia on various white-collar charges (which he fiercely denies) and is regarded by the Kremlin as an enemy.

In Russian eyes, the revolution was a calculated blow to the nation's prestige. Mr Yushchenko defeated the pro-Russian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych after his supporters proved the rival camp had rigged the election and Moscow lost a great deal of influence.

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