The 'colourful' Georgian billionaire, Badri Patarkatsishvili, died today in London, possibly of a heart attack. British police are treating the death as "suspicious" and will unquestionably conduct a thorough investigation.
EDM provide an excellent biography of the man. One portion of it intrigued me: “former KGB and FSB officer Andrei Lugovoi, the suspected assassin of Alexander Litvinenko in London, was Patarkatsishvili’s chief bodyguard and remained a close friend over the years."
By coincidence, several months after president Yushchenko's alleged poisoning during the infamous 'last supper' at Ihor Smesko's dacha, there were reports from an authoritative journalist that, apart from Yushchenko himself, Satsyuk, Smesko and Davyd Zhvaniya - a fifth man was present - Badri Patarkatsishvili...
'Oglyadach' runs a story today describing a scandal that has been recently swirling around Badri P.
A local Georgian newspaper printed a transcript of a recent conversation between Badri P. and a Georgian minister of the interior investigator. Amongst other sensational portions of the transcript, one passage could possibly be highly damaging to Putin's reputation. It also seems that law-enforcement agencies of Georgia may have doctored the text with particularly offensive passages, in order to drive a wedge between Patarkatsishvili and the Kremlin, from whom he may have been seeking support in his oppositional activities.
Patarkatsishvili accuses Putin of corruption when he was deputy mayor of Saint Petersburg, and reveals how Putin came to power.
"I want to describe to you an episode from my life. Maybe you didn't know, but it was I who introduced Putin into politics! He was in Saint Petersburg, working as Sobchak's deputy. He provided protection [krysheval] my St. Petersburg businesses. He wore one dirty green-coloured suit [all of the time]. When Yakovlev won the elections there, beating Sobchak, Yakovlev suggested that he remain, but Putin acted honourably and left city hall together with Sobchak. He used to call me twice a day, begging: "Badri, take me to Moscow - I do not want to remain here". Badri P. claims that he, together with Boris Berezovsky, 'pulled some strings', and eventually Putin became director of the FSB, and then, prime minister.
But their conflict began after the "Kursk" submarine disaster in which over 100 sailors died. There had been opportunity for Norwegians to save the stricken sailors aboard the submarine. Berezovsky was a close adviser of Putin's at that time, but when the "Kursk" sank, he could not convince the Russian navy top brass to act, and could not contact Putin who was on board a yacht sailing near Sochi.
Interesting what the British autopsy report will reveal..
Incidentally, quite a good report on Tuesday's Putin/Yushchenko press conference [in English] from 'Kommersant' here.