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Russia Investigates Berezovsky’s Possible Involvement in General's Murder


Russian officials say they are investigating media tycoon Boris Berezovsky for possible involvement in the kidnapping and murder of a Russian general. The announcement came the same day Mr. Berezovsky planned to broadcast a documentary film that he says proves the Kremlin was behind a series of apartment bombings in September of 1999 that left about 300 people dead.

An official in the prosecutor general's office, Pavel Barkovsky, says there is sufficient reason to launch an investigation into Boris Berezovsky's possible involvement in the kidnapping and murder of a Russian general.

Mr. Barkovsky says he has information that Mr. Berezovsky may have been funneling money to Chechen terrorists under the guise of paying a kidnap ransom. He says his investigation could lead to an official appeal to Britain to extradite Mr. Berezovksy to Russia.

Mr. Berezovsky acknowledges he gave two million dollars to Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev but maintains it was perfectly legal since it was money for Chechen reconstruction and Mr. Basayev was, at the time, a Chechen government official.

The news of the new investigation came the day Mr. Berezovky was to release a documentary film that he says shows Russia's Federal Security Service was behind a series of apartment building explosions in September of 1999 that left about 300 people dead.

On Tuesday, Mr. Barkovsky of the prosecutor general's office said the two events are not related. Mr. Barkovsky said these are separate matters and are not connected. There were two massive explosions in Moscow and a third in the southern city of Volgodonsk. They served as justification for the Kremlin to launch a military offensive in the breakaway region of Chechnya.

The Berezovksy film focuses on an incident in the city of Ryazan which took place a week after the bombings.

In the incident, police, alerted by suspicious residents, said they found high explosives set to go off in the basement of an apartment building. The police initially claimed they had thwarted a terrorist attack but two days later the Federal Security Service, the FSB, said it had been a training exercise meant to test public vigilance.

The Kremlin says the bombings were the work of Chechen terrorists and has dismissed the Berezovksy accusations as baseless. The Berezovsky film, which is to air in London and is not likely to be seen in Russia, is being released on the anniversary of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's death in 1953. The Liberal Russia political movement, which Mr. Berezovsky co-chairs and funds, is to hold an anti-Stalinist rally in downtown Moscow to coincide with the release of film. Similar demonstrations are also planned in the Russian cities of St. Petersburg, Rostov and Perm.

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