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Russian Tycoon Says Plotting 'Revolution'

Boris Berezovsky (file photo) (epa) April 13, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Self-exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has said he is plotting the overthrow of President Vladimir Putin.

His comments come as Russian police today said they would crack down harshly on attempts to hold unauthorized opposition rallies planned for this weekend in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Berezovsky told Britain's "The Guardian" newspaper that he is using his London base to plot a "new Russian revolution" targeting the regime of President Vladimir Putin.

MORE: Coverage in Russian from RFE/RL's Russian Service.

But Berezovsky later issued a statement to "clarify issues," saying he did not support violence.

'Anticonstitutional Regime'

Berezovsky, a long-standing critic of Putin, claims he is in close contact with members of Russia's political elite who feel the Russian president is hurting the country by flouting the constitution and cracking down on all forms of dissent.

An "anticonstitutional" regime like Putin's, Berezovsky said, called for anticonstitutional means to ensure its destruction.

'Putin has created a totalitarian regime. There's no chance to change that through elections. The only way is to use power.'

"We need to use force to change this regime," he said. "Putin has created a totalitarian regime. There's no chance to change that through elections. The only way is to use power."

Berezovsky, an associate of the slain Russian former security officer Aleksandr Litvinenko, has made similar threats in the past -- something the British government has warned could result in him being stripped of his refugee status.

Russia, which has sought to extradite Berezovsky, has reacted angrily to his latest remarks.

Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika said today that he had ordered new criminal charges to be brought against the tycoon.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia has had a long-standing request to Britain to extradite Berezovsky, whom he accused of "grossly abusing" his refugee status with such threats.

Planned Protests

Meanwhile, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports that police and Interior Ministry officers from throughout Russia have been deployed to the capital Moscow to crack down on unauthorized opposition over the weekend.

Activists from the Other Russia opposition coalition are gathering in Moscow on April 14 to hold the latest in a series of rallies called the March of Dissent.

Last December's March of Dissent in Moscow (TASS)

That rally has been banned by authorities. But organizers say they plan to defy the ban and say they expect as many as 7,000 people to take part in the Moscow protest.

A second protest is planned in St. Petersburg the following day.

In the Russian capital, metal police barricades have been erected on the central square where the March of Dissent is planned.

Yulia Malysheva, one of the march's organizers, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that special police forces, or OMON, are being deployed to the capital.

"Huge numbers of OMON [officers] have already been deployed to Moscow from various regions. The problem is that regional OMON as a rule do not bear responsibility for their behavior in another city. The behavior of these OMON can be more radical than that of our [OMON] in Moscow," Malysheva said.

March Of Dissent

Three previous attempts to hold the march -- in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod -- were quashed by police.

Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who has become a prominent face of the political opposition, said the march has been banned despite the fact that it is fully legal.

"As with the previous marches in Moscow, in St. Petersburg, and in Nizhny Novgorod, the problem is that authorities are reluctant to observe the law and the Russian Constitution," Kasparov said.

"We are acting in full compliance with Federal Law 54 of June 19, 2004 on public manifestations. The law is, of course, strict and perhaps it also restricts some of our constitutional rights, nevertheless it allows us to hold the events that we ask permission for."

The Other Russia's main members are the unregistered National Bolshevik Party, led by Eduard Limonov; Kasparov's United Civic Front, the Popular Democratic Union, led by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov; and a group called Red Youth Avant-Garde led by Sergei Udaltsov.

Udaltsov told RFE/RL's Russian Service that activists in other Russian regions have been subject to increasing pressure.

The Kremlin has been cracking down on the political opposition ahead of the December 2007 parliamentary elections and March 2008 presidential vote.

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Democracy In Russia

Demonstrators in Moscow carry a coffin with a television in it to protest government control over broadcasting (TASS file photo)

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Listen to the complete discussion (about 42 minutes):
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