MOSCOW — Self-exiled Russian oligarch and Kremlin foe Boris Berezovsky was involved in organizing Pussy Riot’s performance in a Moscow cathedral, Russian state television claimed in its latest show denouncing the punk rock collective.
The program on the Rossiya-1 channel showed a man who claimed to have been an advisor to Berezovsky, saying he had shown him footage of one of the women and her husband and said that “We will start acting on the Church line.”
“On Feb. 11 2011, in the restaurant Zafferano, Boris Abramovich Berezovsky told me about it and showed me on an iPad,” the man, named as Alexei Veshnyak, said in footage shot in a darkened room.
“Who stood behind the blaspheming women? In my view one of those people is Boris Abramovich Berezovsky,” Veshnyak added, saying Berezovsky wanted to break down the power of the Russian Orthodox Church and the security forces.
Pussy Riot’s legal team denounced the claims broadcast on the show late Tuesday as absurd. “The whole studio is raving,” Pussy Riot lawyer Violetta Volkova wrote on Twitter.
Berezovsky, who lives in London, has already been convicted and jailed in absentia by Russian courts on embezzlement charges and linking his name to Pussy Riot appears to be a new bid to tarnish their reputation.
Three members of the group were sentenced to two years in prison last month on hooliganism charges for performing a song denouncing Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Cathedral, a verdict that sparked condemnation in the West.
Veshnyak said Berezovsky showed him footage of the political art group Voina, (War), which included one of the future Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and her husband Pyotr Verzilov.
“He opened it and showed me: look at Petya Verzilov, look at Tolokonnikova, we will soon start acting. Soon there will be a lot going on... You’ll see. We will start acting on the Church line.”
An earlier show by the same presenter in April had already hinted at Berezovsky’s involvement, based on the fact that he sent a letter to the Russian Patriarch in January ahead of the presidential polls calling for him to back regime change.
The presenter of the show – titled “Provocateurs 2” – Arkady Mamontov previously hosted a show exposing the “spy rock” used by British intelligence in Moscow. — AFP