Crimes of the Kremlin

Source: SBS Dateline

Securing the top job in Russia is a formidable task, but for Vladimir Putin, gaining the keys to the Kremlin was done with remarkable ease.

Dateline’s Nick Lazaredes was a correspondent in Moscow throughout the 1990s charting the unravelling of the Communist state and the emergence of crime lords and new capitalist kings.

Tales of the Russian mafia are well known, but tonight, Lazaredes’ investigation places Russian crime at the heart of political power. The source of many of the allegations is Boris Berezovsky, a multibillionaire and former ally of Putin now in fear of his life and living in exile in London.

He’s wanted in Russia on fraud and money laundering charges and currently fighting extradition, but with little to lose he’s now prepared to tell his story.


REPORTER: Nick Lazaredes

Securing the top job in Russia is a formidable task, but for Vladimir Putin, gaining the keys to the Kremlin was done with remarkable ease. As he confidently strode the red carpet at his inauguration as President, the applause highlighted a nation's relief. Here was a man tough enough to guide Russia back to recapture its former glory. However, few were cheering louder than Russia's secret services. Putin was their man, a former KGB agent and director of Russia's Federal Security Bureau, known as the FSB, Russia's new President had already proven that he had the ruthless resolve to crush any dissenters on the way to the top.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY, RUSSIAN EXILE: I want to prove that Putin is dangerous not because he's a simple crime, because he is real crime.

This man is perhaps President Putin's greatest enemy, the man he fears most. Not surprising when you consider that billionaire and media baron, Boris Berezovsky, is mounting an extraordinary attack on Putin's presidency. Throughout much of the '90s, Berezovsky was one of the most influential political players in the country. He helped deliver the presidency to Putin but quickly became disillusioned by Putin's methods of consolidating power.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: This way is the way back, back to totalitarian political system. And I knew that, I felt that, I knew a little bit of history and I tried to protect himself and the society from that really wrong steps. He did not like what I - that I present this position openly and our relations become worse.

Putin turned on Berezovsky and hounded him out of Russia. Now from exile and forced to communicate with Russia via video link, Berezovsky is fighting back. He accuses Russia's FSB of an astounding campaign of terror which allowed Vladimir Putin to gain and maintain the presidency. According to Berezovsky, the tactics include murdering politicians, running organised crime gangs and even mass murder. He believes the Kremlin is covering up these crimes.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: It's at least clear that officials are liars. They don't want to say the truth. It's already clear now, as a result of the investigations. Now I want just to give answer why they are liars, what they tried to hide.

The main allegation against the FSB relates to a series of bomb attacks in Russia, that occurred just after Putin became Prime Minister and were instrumental in Putin becoming President. Over a two-week period in September 1999, four huge terrorist bombs struck at the heart of Russia's cities, killing almost 300 people. The explosions were targeted at residential buildings, timed to kill as many sleeping occupants as possible. A climate of fear gripped the country. Officially, the government blamed Chechen rebels. None were ever arrested. But then came the incident that started turning the finger of suspicion directly towards the Russian security service. The city of Ryazan lies four hours drive south-east of Moscow. Like all Russians, the residents here were vigilant to the threat of further attacks. On the evening of September 22, a bus driver called Alexei Kartofelnikov noticed a suspicious car parked outside his apartment complex. He was drawn to the car because part of its number plates had been covered over with a hand-drawn piece of paper, indicating that it was a local car. After observing two men and one woman carrying sacks from the car down into the basement of the building, he called police. By the time they arrived, the car was gone. One of the building's residents reported what happened next.

RESIDENT AT FORUM (Translation): The cops were running all over the building banging on doors and shouting "Everybody out, there's a bomb in the building." After what had happened in Moscow and other places, everyone went down into the street in their dressing gowns and slippers.

The residents gathered together here to tell their story on a Russian TV program recorded a few months after the incident. This program formed the basis of a documentary, financed by Berezovsky, called 'Assassination of Russia', which tore great holes in the government's version of who was behind the 1999 bombing spree. It suggested that the FSB itself had carried out the bombings and its biggest lie had been over the bomb planted in Ryazan.

MAN (Translation) I noted down at quarter past midnight.

RESIDENT (Translation): We were taken to the October cinema. There was no heating, it was freezing for the children.

MAN (Translation): Well, I was there with you.

RESIDENT (Translation): We were all there in the October cinema, there's no point in lying.

On the night of the bomb attempt, the head of the local FSB told the residents they had been saved from certain death.

RESIDENT (Translation): He got us all together in a circle around him and said "Today is your second birthday". There were three bags of explosives programmed to go off at 5:30. You would have all been there, and you would have all been blown sky high.

The following day, relying on identikit pictures from the witness in the building, more than 1,000 police and security personnel were thrown into the hunt for the bombers. That same day, a telephonist at the Ryazan exchange, overheard a conversation between what she took to be one of the bombers and FSB headquarters in Moscow.

NADEZHDA YUKHNOVA, RYAZAN PHONE OPERATOR (Translation): They said "Is the woman with you?" "No, she's taking the trolley bus at noon." "Where's the car?" "The car's in the car park." "Leave Ryazan separately, there are checkpoints and patrols everywhere." And, I mean, anyone would have thought, because everyone was thinking about terrorism.

By day two, with the fresh lead from the telephonist, police were moving in to arrest their suspects. But when Moscow was notified of the imminent arrest, stunned local officers were told not to proceed. Incredibly, the suspects they were about to arrest were, in fact, FSB officers. It was at this point that the government completely changed their story - just 30 minutes after the Interior Minister had publicly confirmed the bomb attempt.

VLADIMIR RUSHAILO, MINISTER OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS (Translation): Positive measures are already being taken. One example is the prevention of an explosion in an apartment building in Ryazan.

The head of the FSB then denied it completely.

HEAD OF FSB (Translation): First of all, there wasn't an explosion, and an explosion wasn't prevented, but it wasn't good work, it was an exercise. There were no explosives, just sugar.

This was the first time, two days after the incident, that anyone had raised the claim of an exercise. But the exercise theory was deeply flawed. The FSB claimed that the sacks contained only sugar, and that the detonator was a fake. But the FSB's own bomb disposal expert, who was called to the scene just after the bomb was discovered, and long before the exercise theory was conceived, confirmed that it was a real bomb.

YURI TKACHENKO, BOMB DISPOSAL EXPERT (Translation): There were three bags. The one in the middle had a hole in it. There was an electronic watch inside with wires coming off it. I put my hands in and started gently taking the wires out of the bag.

This photo of the detonator was taken the next day. It was no fake. Tests conducted on the sacks confirmed the presence of hexogen, a powerful explosive. Importantly, hexogen had also been detected in the previous bombings earlier that month and confirmed publicly by the FSB. Residents of the building, who also saw the sacks, were adamant they did not contain sugar.

ALEXEI KARTOFELNIKOV, RESIDENT (Translation): I saw those bags lying there, no more than 10 feet away. They looked like - I don't know, maybe it wasn't hexogen that was in them, but to start with, it was yellowish and really fine, like chopped vermicelli, some kind of granules I'd say.

This is, in fact, an accurate description of hexogen. The official FSB analysis of the sack's contents took six months. The sacks were then curiously blown up in a secret FSB safe zone. If it was an exercise, why wasn't anyone informed and the residents evacuated all night? Why did the story change from real bomb to exercise after two full days, and just as the FSB agents were about to be arrested? The official version of events was becoming farcical, but the FSB clung to their story.

ALEXANDER ZDANOVICH, FSB SPOKESMAN (Translation): The material evidence in this inquiry is sealed in this bag. We can't open it without the permission of a judge. But we brought it with us especially to show that it was properly documented and all is on the record. So there's no question you can go on saying it's explosives when it's sugar.

But the residents of the Ryazan building were having none of it. Having escaped certain death, they were convinced that the FSB was lying.

MAN (Translation): I don't understand why we allow ourselves to be led by the nose by these people. They're just trying to clean the filth of their uniform coats but they're covered in filth underneath anyway.

More than three years after the bombings, the evidence that Russia's secret services were involved continues to mount. Dateline has been told that the FSB has secret access to the specialist explosive hexogen, which was used in the bombings.

NIKITA CHEKULIN, FORMER DIRECTOR EXPLOSIVES INSTITUTE (Translation): Then by a whim of fate I found myself working at a research institute.

Nikita Chekulin is a frightened man.

NIKITA CHEKULIN (Translation): On the surface, the institute studied explosive materials. But in reality it was involved in a large-scale illegal explosives trade within Russia and that included exports ammunition components. That completely illegal activity was performed under the umbrella of certain Russian secret services.

Three years ago, Chekulin was director of Russia's chief explosives institute in Moscow. Now, he's in hiding in England after threats to his life. Speaking for the first time, he claims his knowledge of an FSB-controlled black market in explosives, including hexogen, could reveal the truth behind the bombings.

NIKITA CHEKULIN (Translation): If I give you my version of events and name the eyewitnesses or other witnesses I'd place them in a painful and difficult position. I do not claim the institute was involved in organising the terrorist acts of 1999, but I must say that it can't be ruled out. As for the secret scheme to steal hexogen slabs from military warehouses, and even from the manufacturers, I can say that scheme did exist and there are documents confirming that.

On discovering the illegal explosives and arms trade, Chekulin immediately reported it to his contacts in FSB headquarters. A few days later, he received a call from a colleague in the FSB warning of a plan to assassinate him.

NIKITA CHEKULIN (Translation): On 2 August, 2000, a liaison officer who'd been my operational contact told me to drop immediately my preparations to go to work and not to go to work in my car. They wanted to gun me down at the entrance to the institute. They'd planned that operation. Then the operation failed. I left Moscow.

With the evidence of FSB involvement in the bombings growing, historian Yuri Felshtinsky started his own investigation.

YURI FELSHTINSKY, HISTORIAN: There is no question about this. You would not find a single serious person who would believe the story presented by the government.

Yuri Felshtinsky is a respected academic who's often quoted in Russian history texts. He's lived in America for over 20 years and has written several books on Soviet history. Three years ago, after writing about the bombings, Berezovsky began to fund his research. Felshtinsky believes that the FSB version of the bombings is a pack of lies, and that the government had a political motive to hide the truth.

YURI FELSHTINSKY: FSB, of course, it's clear to everybody again who was studying the subject, was lying about everything, on every steps, changing the story, naming different people, lying openly and publicly about knowing who blew up the building, arresting people who were actually involved in terrorist acts, accusing those people of crimes which they never committed, trying to push public to the conclusion that Chechen government and the major Chechen leaders were behind terrorist acts.

The Government's response to the bombs, at the time, was revealing. Prime Minister Putin went on television vowing terrible revenge on the perpetrators in decidedly unparliamentary language.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PM (Translation): We'll pursue terrorists everywhere in airports, in...excuse me...we'll rub them out in shithouses. That's it. The matter is closed.

The government created an anti-Chechen frenzy in the media, and on the streets Chechens were rounded up, harassed and vilified. The day after the incident in Ryazan, Prime Minister Putin declared war on Chechnya. Ever since that moment, the war has continued and Putin's reputation as the sort of leader Russia needed was firmly established. But according to Felshtinsky, the only logical conclusion for this chain of events was that the terrorist bombings were, in fact, a massive conspiracy to persuade the public to accept the new war on Chechnya.

YURI FELSHTINSKY: There is a great possibility that the government was involved in explosions themselves and preparation of those explosions, in conducting those explosions, and that this was a part of a huge, well-organised, well-coordinated public relations campaign to promote Putin to the post of the next President of Russia.

Dateline has asked the FSB and the President's office in Moscow to respond to these serious allegations. Despite 10 days of phone calls and faxes, we were unable to obtain an interview prior to broadcast. The FSB has referred us to their website which, they say, contains everything they have to say on the matter. Despite pages of detail on their investigations into the terrorist bombings, there's no mention of the incident in Ryazan or the broader claims by Berezovsky or Felshtinsky. In the Russian film 'Oligarch', released last year and loosely based on Boris Berezovsky's eventful life, viewers gain a glimpse into the heady and sometimes dangerous world of rich and powerful new Russians. But for the first time in his life, the real Boris Berezovsky has never felt so alone.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: I never had this type of pressure and never I felt so, so, so unprotected and only who protect me is myself, is me.

Berezovsky has good reason to be wary. Exiled in London, he fears that his campaign against Putin has made him a target for Russia's secret services.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: The intelligence service, they sent people, even to kill me. Five or six months ago, Scotland Yard officers came to my home, and I invite my lawyers, and they told me that they got information that several Chechens tried to kill me in London and they propose to protect me. And they took under protection my home, my office, and I have just one question - I know for sure that Chechens don't want to kill me, that I have long-term relations with Chechens and they know how I help them to create peace in this part of Russia.

REPORTER: So who do you suspect was...

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: No doubt, it's the intelligence service.

Few Russians have walked the political tightrope as high and as fast as Boris Berezovsky. A former mathematician with the Soviet Academy of Sciences, he's now worth around $5 billion with interests in oil, media and finance companies. This year, he made it to number 20 on the list of Britain's wealthiest residents, well ahead of the Queen. But despite allegations that he gained his fortune at the expense of ordinary Russians by buying state assets at rock-bottom prices, Boris Berezovsky makes no apologies.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: I am sure that it was organised by FSB. If your question is, feel I guilty that I am rich and a lot of people become poor, my answer is no, I don't feel, because everybody had a choice.

It was his relationship with President Boris Yeltsin that changed Berezovsky's life forever. Even now the businessman keeps a photo of Yeltsin in his office. Berezovsky, through the support of his media empire, is widely credited with winning the 1996 election for Yeltsin. By 1998, it was clear that Yeltsin was sick and drinking heavily, so a successor was needed. It was suggested to Yeltsin that Vladimir Putin, the head of the FSB, was an obvious choice.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: Several people discussed with him about Putin, including myself. And he decided to follow this way. He met Putin several times and then he made his choice. My vision was at that time very positive to Putin.

With Putin appointed as Prime Minister, Boris Berezovsky immediately threw his media might into the Putin for President campaign. On Russia's popular political puppet program 'Kookly', Berezovsky was depicted as Putin's fairy godmother.

TRANSLATION OF “KOOKLY” SEGMENT: So we'll comb your heir with a magic media comb. We must make a human of him before they tear off my wings.

YURI FELSHTINSKY: If it's not for Berezovsky, Putin would never become the President of Russia, because Russian major channel number 1 supported Putin during the very important and very dirty campaign.

No sooner had Putin taken power, his relationship with Berezovsky began to deteriorate. Serious policy differences developed over Putin's rollback of Yeltsin's reforms and the second war in Chechnya.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: In December '99, I met him and I formulate him my position concerning Chechnya, that we need to stop the military action there and that we need to change priority, we need to start political negotiation because it's absolutely useless to fight.

YURI FELSHTINSKY: As soon as the war and killing started, everybody knew that reforms in Russia are over, that there is no way back, that Putin is not going to be a democratic president and that FSB and Russian secret services secure for themselves a very safe political and economical position within the Russian state.

When the Russian nuclear submarine 'Kursk' sank in arctic waters, the relationship between Berezovsky and Putin sank with it. Whilst Putin was holidaying on the Black Sea, Berezovsky's national TV network broadcast interviews with weeping relatives asking where the President was at this time of national tragedy. So angry was Putin, that he ordered Berezovsky to turn over his 49% share of the national TV network to the government. Berezovsky refused.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: And Putin said that I start to fight against him and he insist that I return 49%. I said "No," and he said "You, your channel present several prostitutes which said that I am responsible for that" and so on, so on. I said "What? Prostitutes? They are wife and sisters of people who are die, who died, and how you are able to say that?" and he said "I got information from FSB that they are prostitutes."

Berezovsky soon learned that Putin wasn't making idle threats. At a stroke, the government confiscated all of his television assets. With the battlelines drawn, Berezovsky learned that he would soon face criminal charges over the building of his business empire. It was time to leave Russia.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: When I read the books in my childhood and read about the different Russian politicians who had to leave the country during tsar time, during communist time, I never could imagine that I will share the same destiny.

While Dateline is in London filming this story, Boris Berezovsky calls me to an urgent meeting. He has been arrested. The Russian Government's extradition case against him on charges of fraud and money laundering will proceed. 30 minutes and £160,000 bail later, Berezovsky is free to go, until his appearance in court.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: At last they start their official proceeding. And the basic question is why they didn't start before and why they start just now. As I tell from the very beginning, it was just political material, nothing more. And they start now, it is also clear why, because this year we have parliament elections.

With a bevy of top notch lawyers, today Berezovsky seems anything but worried. For this defiant billionaire, it's just another hurdle. Berezovsky's campaign against the FSB and the Kremlin has found an important ally. Alexander Litvinenko was a senior officer in the FSB in Moscow before fleeing to London where he has gained political asylum and protection.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO, FORMER FSB OFFFICER (Translation): Corruption in the secret service and law enforcement agencies is not just isolated incidents or individual actions of people trying to earn some money illegally. It's a system with its roots in the office of the President of the Russian Federation.

Litvinenko was a rising star within the FSB for most of the '90s, and he knows the culture of the organisation from the inside. He was shocked by the depth of criminal activity and its sense of impunity for even the worst crimes.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO (Translation): In 1997 I and several of my colleagues were transferred to the most secret unit in the FSB which, as we learned when we got our orders dealt in extra legal murder. So the task of our unit was to act on the orders of the country's top officials and kill those they found disagreeable.

Officially Litvinenko's section was investigating organised crime - the Russian mob. Soon, he and his colleagues began to uncover the extent of the FSB's criminal connections to the Russian underworld.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO (Translation): Beginning in 1997, we started catching not just criminals but police and FSB officers. We were arresting them not for accepting bribes, not for misuse of authority or exceeding their commission, but for crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery... I mean those people formed gangs that robbed, killed and kidnapped people and our superiors knew all about them. They acted on ordered from their superiors who were in turn in a protection racket giving cover to commercial companies.

As Litvinenko's group probed deeper into drug trafficking from Central Asia, he says they uncovered some shocking connections.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO (Translation): We established that drugs in huge quantities, tonnes of drugs, including heroin, came from Afghanistan, from General Abdul Rashid Dustum. They go through Russia to the port of St Petersburg. From there they go to Spain where they're parcelled up and from there on to Europe. In St Petersburg the drugs went through the port which is "covered" by the St Petersburg FSB officers.

Litvinenko continues to maintain his contacts within Russia's secret services. He's written a book about his experiences, which was banned in Russia.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO (Translation): In my book I wrote that I had a trusted source within Putin's inner circle. He gave me the same information. When the FSB learned that man had been my source, about two weeks after our last meeting he was killed. Though at the time he held the position of economic adviser to the President.

As incredible as Litvinenko's claims are, he's also linked closely to Boris Berezovsky and that's because Litvinenko was ordered to kill him. The deputy head of the top secret FSB unit called Litvinenko to a special briefing.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO (Translation): He said there were people we couldn't touch legally because they'd amassed huge sums of money. They're a thorn in our leadership's side. Those people must be eliminated. They can't be arrested, they're rich, they have connections. He asked me “Do you know Berezovsky?” Well, I do. “Then you have to kill him.” I just...I remained silent and pointed at the walls, since many of the offices were bugged. He lent over to me, like that. “You must kill Berezovsky. You must do it personally.” After that it was no joke. It was said in the presence of three other officers.

Litvinenko's account of the instruction to kill Berezovsky is backed up by evidence from Russia's head military prosecutor. In a letter written to Berezovsky, he confirms that Litvinenko's immediate superiors had, in fact, discussed killing the billionaire. With this order to murder and the criminal links he'd already uncovered, Litvinenko was convinced that the FSB was now out of control. He decided to confront Putin, then head of the FSB, directly.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO (Translation): We had information on him that he wasn't entirely clean but I thought that if he'd been appointed the FSB director then he'd be somehow, you know, he'd be thinking of the state. I immediately realised he was lying. I looked into his eyes, he never looks you in the eye, he lowers his eyes. We spoke of serious matters, I gave him my report.

Litvinenko laid out for Putin a huge diagram, detailing the links between FSB generals and people in the Kremlin, right through to the private companies where the money was laundered. It was a comprehensive indictment of an officially sanctioned organised crime racket.

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO (Translation): He looked at that diagram. He refused to take it. Though he did take the report on the drug trade. He also asked for my home phone number. I asked what it was for. He said "I'll call you". So I went to him and told him everything. Later my friend from internal security laughed at me. “You talked to the right man. You gave your stuff to Putin. They just laughed at you. You gave him your number." I asked my friend how he knew. "He ordered us to bug your phone." After that I was sacked and all the people I'd reported to Putin, including the FSB personnel, got promoted.

Litvinenko then went public with his allegations but within days was arrested and, after spending nearly a year in prison, fled Russia. But Litvinenko is not the only one targeted with the law by the Russian Government to try and silence them. It's Boris Berezovsky's first day in court to hear extradition charges, and the media, mostly Russian, are waiting. Today is just a technical hearing, to hear the charges read formally in court. When Berezovsky finally comes out wearing a Putin facemask, it's clear he's full of contempt for the Russian President, although the Russian media don't seem to get the joke.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY (Translation): I'm going back to work at the Kremlin. Any questions?

RUSSIAN REPORTER: Boris Abramovich, what of the refugee status?

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: Please address me correctly. I'm Vladimir Vladimirovich. Refugee status? Why would I need that?

RUSSIAN REPORTER: What are your chances in the British court?

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: They look good. Goodbye. See you at the press conference.

Berezovsky is confident that he'll never be extradited to Russia.

BEREZOVSKY’S SPOKESMAN AT PRESS CONFERENCE: In response to the second question, I usually do not waste my time on thinking about events, the probability of which is close to zero.

BEREZOVSKY INTERJECTS: It's not close, is zero.

BEREZOVSKY’S SPOKESMAN: Is equal to zero. Is equal to zero.

He insists that he'll be using the case as a platform to publicise his allegations against the FSB.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY (Translation): Of course, since I'm firmly convinced that the extradition decision is purely political, I, naturally, will continue to voice my position and say what I know about the terrorist activities of the FSB in Russia and abroad.

But Berezovsky knows he won't defeat Putin with his allegations alone. Mindful of the Russian journalists at the other end of the press conference video link, Berezovsky announces that he's decided to take on Putin politically.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: As for what I am going to do in Russia, I'm quite open about it. I'll be running for parliament in Moscow. In December, I'm talking. So why do you answer? I'm going to take part in the parliamentary elections.

He's also using his wealth and connections to try and create an effective opposition to Putin in the Russian parliament.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: Only real resource to finance opposition, unfortunately it happens so that only I have this resource, independent from Kremlin.

Boris Berezovsky knows that in his upcoming political struggle with the Kremlin, the odds are against him. Last year, with leading reformers like Sergei Yushenkov, he set up the Liberal Russia Party. Yushenkov, like Berezovsky, had pursued the FSB allegations and the Kremlin for covering them up. Last month, Sergei Yushenkov was shot dead by a lone gunman. It was Russia's ninth political killing in as many years. Yushenkov's death shocked Russia's reformers. The outspoken politician had already been warned on television by an FSB general that he'd be dealt with if he didn't shut up. Whatever the reason for his death, press speculation was rife that Putin's supporters may have ordered the killing.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: In my opinion, Putin won't be re-elected as President.

Every few days Berezovsky speaks to supporters in Russia via video link to try and shore up support. But his chances of defeating Putin politically took a further and perhaps fatal dive when it was realised that the FSB now controlled the main election computer, as part of Putin's drive to centralise power.

YURI FELSHTINSKY: One would claim that FSB is so strong that they control the government, they control our finances and now they control even the election tools, the main computer which is going to calculate the results of the new elections, next elections. Now, if we agree with this model of this school, Berezovsky had no chances to win the war against both Putin and FSB.

But Berezovsky remains philosophical, even confident that one day he will return to Russia and be vindicated.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY: This is destiny, my way as I understand. And let's say I really want very much to return back to Russia but I have so many powers still to reach that that I know that it's not time now. It happen later, maybe even when I said, "OK, I don't want more to Russia."

Even if he is unsuccessful in his quest to topple Vladimir Putin from the presidency, many believe that Berezovsky's campaign to reveal the truth about Russia's secret services and those that control them, will be measured in historical terms.

YURI FELSHTINSKY: I think it's probably not going to be appreciated very much today what he's doing for Russia now. It probably will take some time for Russians to understand how important Berezovsky was, particularly in this period of his life when he's the only voice of opposition.

Source SBS Dateline