Flowers for Berezovsky, Flowers for Primakov

gordievsky030808.jpgOleg Gordievsky, the former KGB turncoat whose James Bond-like appointment by the Queen of England raised quite a ruckus last year, has published a book review in the Times about the latest work of Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky. Felshtinsky is most well known as Alexander Litvinenko’s co-author, and Pribylovsky has been an active dissident since the 1980s, so for most Russia news junkies, you can tell where this article will be going. Nevertheless, the new book appears to offer some interesting stories, such as the following tale of how Berezovsky and Putin began their early friendship:

At that time Boris Berezovsky (the oligarch and politician) was a figure of influence, a member of President Yeltsin’s extended “family”. An election campaign was in progress, and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov hated Berezovsky and was trying to undermine him. During a birthday party for Berezovsky’s wife, Putin unexpectedly turned up with a bunch of flowers. “You’re crazy,” said the astonished Berezovsky. “Primakov will find out …” “He can go to hell,” Putin supposedly replied. “I’m not afraid of him.” Berezovsky was very impressed (but he did not know then that Putin had also visited Primakov with another bunch of flowers), and their short-lived friendship began.

The complete article contains an excerpt from the book.