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Russia: Tycoon Clarifies Remarks, Calls For Popular Revolution

Boris Berezovsky (AFP) MOSCOW, April 14, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has clarified remarks he made to a British newspaper calling for force --> to be used to overthrow President Vladimir Putin.

Berezovsky made the comments in an interview published on April 13 in Britain's "The Guardian" newspaper.

In a telephone interview today with RFE/RL's Russian Service on April 14, Berezovsky, who is living in London, said the Russian regime was "criminal" and said it would be impossible to change it with elections. He added that by "force" he meant massive street protests similar to those in Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution and Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution.

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

"This is what happened in Ukraine, this is what happened in Georgia. This is typical of my understanding of a forceful overthrow of the authorities. This is when there is forceful pressure on the authorities from the street and the square in order to change the regime," Berezovsky said.

Berezovsky made his comments on a day when police broke up a protest rally in Moscow.


Berezovsky's comments initially sparked controversy. Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said earlier today that she "deplores" any call for the forceful overthrow of the Russian government.

Russia ordered a criminal investigation and called on Britain to strip Berezovsky of his asylum status. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said police were studying whether the comments broke any British laws.

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.

In comments to "The Guardian," Berezovsky said an "anticonstitutional" regime like Putin's called for anticonstitutional means to ensure its destruction.

"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."

Refugee Status

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 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.

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