Cameron meeting Putin is a ‘historical mistake’, says exiled Russian tycoon

The Guardian

Boris Berezovsky urges David Cameron to raise human rights abuses with Putin, especially those against businessmen.

Exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has warned David Cameron that his decision to meet Vladimir Putin is a “historical mistake” that will lead to more bloodshed inside the country.

Russian dissidents and exiles are urging the prime minister to raise Russia’s disastrous human rights record in his talks with the country’s leadership. Cameron is due to hold a day of talks in Russia on Monday, accompanied by two dozen British businessmen, as the two countries seek to revive a relationship all but frozen in the wake of the London killing of the Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko.

“The longer you speak with the gangster head of a country, the more victims there will be in the end, until these cannibals are erased from the story,” Berezovsky said in a telephone interview from London.

Cameron is due to hold talks with Putin on Monday, the first British premier to do so since Tony Blair met the powerful leader in mid-2007.

Russian-British relations had plunged to new lows following the 2006 murder by polonium poisoning of Litvinenko in London. Russia continues to refuse British requests to extradite the chief suspect in the murder, former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi, who received parliamentary immunity inside Russia after being elected to an MP post following the attack.

“Cameron is not the first politician to face such a choice – to speak or not to speak with the criminal leader of a country,” Berezovsky said. “It’s the same as when the West decided to speak with Gaddafi,” he said. “History always provides the answer – it is a historical mistake.”

Putin’s desire to meet Cameron has prompted speculation that he is hoping to rebuild his international reputation before Russia’s presidential vote in March next year. Putin has not yet announced whether he will run, but is certain to win if he does. Cameron is also due to hold talks with Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president.

Hostility between Moscow and London has simmered since the fallout from Litvinenko’s murder, which also saw Russian authorities shutting down British Council offices in the country and pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi harassing former ambassador Tony Brenton.

Russian dissidents are warning the prime minister not to gloss over human rights concerns in favour of building up business ties. Among those accompanying Cameron is the BP chief, Robert Dudley, who was forced to flee the country in 2008 amid a shareholder struggle at the company’s Russia unit, TNK-BP. The company’s Moscow offices were raided by masked police earlier this month amid continuing tension.

“All those who invest in Russia must know that they might not get their money back,” said Yevgeny Chichvarkin, a Russian multi-millionaire who fled to London in December 2008 following criminal charges that he said were designed to wrest his company, Yevroset, Russia’s most successful mobile retailer, from him. Chichvarkin said he remains scared to return to Russia and has hinted in the past that his mother’s death following his flight was suspicious.

Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the 84-year-old doyenne of Russia’s dissident community, said that the past three years saw an overwhelming growth in the number of human rights complaints coming from businessmen. “The biggest risk group in Russia right now is businessmen – not kids, not ethnic minorities – businessmen,” she said. The jailing of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, allowed the state-run oil firm Rosneft to buy up his company’s assets on the cheap, she said. That is now being repeated at all levels of the economy.

Alekseyeva and others said Cameron must focus on the prison murder case of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer working on a case for Hermitage Capital, a London-based investment fund run by UK citizen William Browder.

Browder went one step further. “It is not relevant what they discuss behind closed doors. What I care about is what Cameron says publicly and what he does about policy in the UK,” he said. “He must publicly announce a visa ban and asset freeze against Russians who perpetrate gross human rights abuses like the murder of Sergei Magnitsky – that will send a shiver down the spine of every corrupt Russian official, to know that one of the countries they most covet for the security of their capital, for their children to go to school, for their families to live, is potentially off limits to people that are corrupt.”

Browder, who built a career as a minority activist shareholder targeting state-run Russian companies, has been banned from entering Russia since 2006, because he is deemed a threat to national security.

“I was the biggest foreign portfolio investor, a British citizen,” he said. “They kicked me out, expropriated my companies and tortured and killed my lawyer. For David Cameron to go and encourage other British businessmen to put themselves in that type of harm’s way is ludicrous.” hairy girls срочный займ на карту онлайн https://zp-pdl.com/emergency-payday-loans.php https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php срочный займ на карту онлайн

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