MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow is ready to consider burying self-exiled Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky in Russia, if it receives such a request, the online TV channel Dozhd said in its Twitter micro-blog on Sunday, referring to presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Fugitive Russian tycoon and Kremlin critic Berezovsky was found dead in his Surrey home in the UK at the age of 67 on Saturday. The precise cause of his death is not yet known. Initial suggestions that Berezovsky may have committed suicide were quickly quashed by his close associates.
Dozhd quoted Peskov as saying that Berezovsky was a very influential person in Russia in the 1990s but “I would not exaggerate his role in the 2000s. It was rather minimal.”
“Berezovsky was clearly an opponent of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, not only a political one but also in other dimensions,” Dozhd quoted Peskov as saying.
Under President Boris Yeltsin, Berezovsky was known as Russia’s “kingmaker.” He was a trusted figure at the very heart of the Kremlin and was central to Putin’s rise to power in the late 1990s.
After Putin took office, however, Berezovsky’s relationship with the Kremlin quickly soured.
In 2001, he fled to France and then on to the UK. The Russian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him the following year on charges of money-laundering and illegal business activity.
Peskov said on Saturday that Berezovsky had written to Putin “perhaps a couple of months ago,” asking forgiveness for the mistakes he had made and “requesting permission to return to the motherland.”