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Berezovsky sets $17 million bounty on capture of Putin

Published time: May 06, 2012 20:17
Edited time: May 07, 2012 10:43

Boris Berezovsky (Reuters / Stefan Wermuth)

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As Vladimir Putin prepares to take office, fugitive Boris Berezovsky is offering $16.7 million to anyone who detains Putin at his inauguration. The sum has increased ten-fold since his previous offer, evidently ignoring the economic crisis.

­Despite being stripped of property and bank accounts in Switzerland, Monaco, France and Ukraine, Berezovsky has still reckons he has the funds to pursue his ideas of justice for Russia. On Sunday Berezovsky told his Facebook followers he agreed that 50 million rubles ($1.67 million) was not enough for such a grand action as capturing “Putin and his sidekicks.”

The renewed call to capture the president-elect “alive” comes on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration in the Kremlin, while Moscow police have detained hundreds of opposition activists protesting the results of March’s presidential poll.

In his initial call, issued on April 23 in his blog, the self-exiled mogul said he wanted to bring Putin “to a fair and open court hearing, like the Nuremberg trial.” To fully feel the comparison, it’s worth remembering that the Nuremberg process was a tribunal for German officials involved in the Holocaust and other war crimes. How it fits with the current situation in Russia, even as it is pictured by Berezovsky, remains unclear.

In “a goodwill gesture,” he says he is ready to stand the same “open fair trial” for his alleged support of Putin in 1999-2000.

Berezovsky maintains Putin is going to seize power in the country while delivering his presidential oath on May 7. This will be the third presidential term for the Russian leader, which, according to Berezovsky, contradicts the constitution.

The full text of the constitution postulates that “one and the same person cannot be President of the Russian Federation for longer than two terms of office in succession.” Here, the key words are “in succession” – the rule does not limit the number of terms to only two in a lifetime.

Berezovsky, dubbing Putin’s regime “pagan,” is calling for an uprising against “tyranny and oppression.

Demonstrators could detain Putin and take him into custody during their actions planned for May 6-7,” writes Berezovsky from his headquarters in the UK. He also promises that anyone trying to hold back Putin’s motorcade on their way to Kremlin on Monday cannot be regarded as a rioter under the Penal Code, as their actions “would be aimed at restoring constitutional order.”

As I cannot take part in capturing Putin personally, I have decided to contribute to the cause: I set a reward of 50 million rubles for detaining the dangerous criminal Vladimir Putin and taking him into custody,” declared Berezovsky in April. Now this sum has increased ten times over.

While Berezovsky is trying to incite Moscow opposition activists to do his dirty work while sitting in his cozy study in London, Russian courts want to see him on several counts including fraud, money-laundering and the embezzlement of $2 billion from two major state companies.

Moscow has issued multiple arrest warrants for the self-exiled tycoon and has repeatedly demanded his extradition from Britain, but to no effect. Now Berezovsky says that, after his anti-Putin calls, re-applying for his extradition would only “prove to the British court his views that Putin has usurped power [in Russia].”

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