Roman Abramovich's London Testimony Shows How Crazy Business Was In Russia's 'Wild East' Of The Nineties

Roman Abramovich

Photo: AP

The court case between oligarches Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich is worth watching for a number of reasons.Firstly, at $6.5 billion, the lawsuit is the biggest personal suit in history. Secondly, despite concerning events that took palce over 10 years ago in Russia, the case is being held in London.

Thirdly, the court case has forced the normally private Roman Abramovich to talk about his rise to power in 1990s Russia, a place where the normal rules broke down and a free for all power grab emerged in its place.

We’ve taken a few key passages from Ambramovich’s witness statement that show his rise to power. Head over to the Guardian to check out the other side of the story in Berezovsky’s statement.

Humble Beginnings

'I am a Russian citizen, residing in Russia. I was born in Saratov in the former USSR, as it then was. I lost both parents at at a young age and was brought up by relatives, initially in the Komi Republic and then later in Moscow. I consider Moscow as my motherland.'

An Education Halted By Military Service

'After graduating from high school, I was admitted to the Industrial Institute of Ukhta in the city of Ukhta. During my studies there, I was drafted into the army and returned to school upon discharge; however, I never graduated and went into business in 1987.'

The Beginnings Of An Empire

Political Ambitions

Ambramovich's Current Business Interests

He Explains His Discomfort With The Court Case

'The claims in these proceedings have virtually no connection with England. I instructed my lawyers not to challenge the jurisdiction of the English courts in this case because Mr Berezovsky had been granted refugee status in the UK, having been convicted of defrauding money from he Russian company Aeroflot.

'My understanding was that it would not have been practically possible in those circumstances for him to bring the proceedings in Russia or attend to give witness evidence at any trial that took place there.'

On His Relationship With Berezovsky

On Doing Business In Russia In The 1990s

On The Shift To A Market Economy

'A number of major industries, particularly aluminium, were under the influence of criminal gangs who often used intimidation and murder as tools to extract money from the enterprises. Where foreign investors were allowed the opportunity to invest in Russian businesses, they generally would not do so because of the risks. The civil law had not kept pace with economic developments. The court system was unreliable and inadequate to enforce any rights under civil law.

'These were exciting times to be an entrepreneur but were also dangerous and risky times. However, on the other hand opportunities abounded for people like myself.'

Why Having A Krysha Is Expensive

'...Over time Mr Berezovsky also asked me to assist him with other expense he incurred. For example, I recall paying occasional credit card bills of his girlfriend at the time...'

'If Mr Berezovsky needed to charter a plane in order to fly somewhere, or wanted a yacht to be chartered, he would ask me to pay for it. It was always Mr Berezocksy who decided what expenses were necessary for him to maintain his image and influential position. I suspect that there were times when almost all of Mr Berezovsky's personal expenses were subsidized by me.'

Putin enters the picture...

Threats from Chechnya?

'Although Mr Berezovsky never directly threatened me, his bragging about the methods he resorted to when dealing with his enemies and his close connections with powerful Chechens had a strong influence on my thinking.'

Abramovich On Putin

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