Global Voices Online
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Badri Patarkatsishvili, an exiled Georgian tycoon, opposition politician and Boris Berezovsky's longtime friend and business partner, died unexpectedly on Feb. 12 in England.
World media are providing extensive coverage of the ongoing investigation into Patarkatsishvili's death, and the Russian blogosphere offers plenty of commentary as well.
Here is what journalist Sergei Dorenko, who headed Berezovsky's ORT channel's news service under Patarkatsishvili, has written (RUS) about his former boss and the people who surrounded him:
I called Boris [Berezovsky], asked him whether it was really so.
He could barely talk - very difficult for him. But he confirmed, yes, Badri [Patarkatsishvili] is gone.
Strange and hard to believe.
Then I also talked to a friend who was doing some business with Badri, and they'd had a phone conversation at 7 PM London time yesterday. Badri was full of energy during that conversation, joked a lot and sounded beautifully.
He died at 11 PM London time.
And I had also spent nearly two weeks with Badri, from Dec. 14 to 26. Saw him for many hours daily - from morning till evening. A very strong person. Very energetic. Don't remember him complaining of being tired, not once, don't remember him feeling unwell, or taking any medication, or visiting doctors.
Since he was running for president of Georgia, there was a lot of work to be done. But he was managing well. He was coping with pressure better than I'm capable of - because I can't stand sleep deprivation at all.
He was 52. He would've turned 53 at the end of October.
Everyone's asking me about him, but I don't know what to say, except for what I've said above.
He is Berezovsky's friend. More than a friend. More than a brother.
He was a good friend of Kostya Ernst [director general of ORT]. Until Putin invited Kostya to join him. They had reached an agreement. Kostya called Badri after the meeting with Putin and told him very loudly and clearly: "Badri, I'm a piece of shit." And then he hung up right away. I think this says a lot about Ernst. Characterizes him positively overall as a human being. He could've abstained from calling, but he did call. It means a lot. And this is how Badri thought about it. And Kostya today could've said a lot about his friend.
[Andrei Lugovoi, ex-KGB operative, currently a deputy of the State Duma, accused of murdering Aleksandr Litvinenko] had been working under his command for a long time. Lugovoi has a lot to tell, I think.
I used to run into Lugovoi in Badri's reception area. As for Kostya Ernst, I used to see him in Patarkatsishvili's study. Though it wasn't too often that I passed through that reception into that study. Badri ran the finances of [the ORT Channel], while I was in the news. We the news folks are a special caste, the elite [...]. We don't need money, don't give a damn about the money - that is, we don't count the money and never will, and who gets the money and where from, it's none of our business. Well, Badri was somehow getting the money, and we never bothered to ask whether it was easy for him or not...
So yeah, it'd be worth it to ask Kostya some questions. And Lugovoi.
And me, what can I recall?
He tried to look very respectable. He was imitating Stalin a little bit? The way he acted, the way he spoke...
Once, at Berezovsky's birthday party in 1997, Badri came up to me and patted me on the should, saying: "Attaboy, attaboy!" Then he moved his hand the way I interpreted as an attempt to pat me on the cheek superiorly. I'm not sure, because I turned around and evaded his pat, and left outraged.
I waked through the hall. I walked through the vestibule. I walked down the stairs of the [LogoVAZ] receptions building. I got outside and ran towards my Pajero. Got behind the wheel. But couldn't shut the door - because Boris had been walking behind me all this time. He held the Pajero's door and asked: "Don't leave, it's my birthday, forgive him, this is the way he is, this is how he's used to be, he's Georgian. Over there in Georgia it's okay for people to touch one another, it's not considered offensive." I responded angrily and with curses, said bad things about the Caucasian habit of standing 20 cm from each other, yelling right into the other guy's mouth, patting on the shoulder, etc. Boris said he really wanted me to accept Badri the way he was, because Badri was his friend, the only REAL friend. Boris was standing out in the freezing Moscow street on Jan. 23, without his jacket on. At some point, I pointed out to him that he was freezing, standing the way he did, holding the Pajero's door. He admitted the absurdity of the scene - bodyguards five meters away, on tram rails, me inside the car, he right next to it. Well, it was kind of silly. It was his birthday, moreover. And so I returned.
Then in Nov. 1998 Badri decided at some point that ORT might cease to exist at any moment. And he threw a party at LogoVAZ's receptions building. Shabdurasulov, Pozner, Yakubovich, Lyubimov were all there. There were some ten people, including Berezovsky. They were serving suckling pigs from some Georgian restaurant. Badri said that we had done a good job, and that we would probably not work any longer, if a loan didn't turn up. Then someone said a toast. Then I got up and spoiled the evening. I said that I manage 500 people - the news service. That those people haven't been paid their salaries since August [following the financial crisis of 1998]. That these people had lost their [bank savings]. That my colleagues were coming to work with plastic bags with buckwheat meals in them - they couldn't afford eating at the cafeteria, it was too expensive for them. And that I considered this party [immoral] - with those piglets and well-fed [faces]. And I couldn't stay with this crowd. And so I left. And this time no one tried to get me back. Because, moreover, my resignation got exchanged for a 100-million loan at the order of [Yevgeniy Primakov]. And thank God for that. These words sounded very appropriately and beautifully afterwards: "You want your staff to get their salaries, don't you? Then leave and don't stand in the way - this is [Primakov]'s condition."
Eventually, we did forgive each other. Me and Badri. When I became déclasséd and he turned into an exile. We started to interact, little by little, carefully, every minute expecting to find a reason to have a fight. And we didn't find any reason to fight.
And now we'll never have it at all.
Though, here's one: this death of his is so sudden and inexplicable - what kind of a prank is that?
I really, really regret it. It's bitter for me to think that our Badrik is dead. And I'm happy to have known him and to have worked with him.
And I fear for Boris - Litvinenko was quite a blow, and Badri is a blow that's many times as forceful.
A question: did he [leave] by himself or was he helped to. I'd like to get an answer to this question.
Garry Kasparov's aide Marina Litvinovich (LJ user abstract2001) posted a link to Dorenko's account on her blog and wrote (RUS):
Other people's lives.
Dorenko writes in his LJ about Badri, Berezovsky, Ernst, about his departure from ORT (in exchange for a loan for ORT from Primakov - the war of clans had already started then, and it ended with Putin's arrival).
Nice, useless details - and the significant ones are showing through.