Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
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#11 - JRL 7137
April 8, 2003
Russia's 'most hated' tycoons

Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky and the chairman of Russia's electricity monopoly UES, Anatoly Chubais, have decided to share the title of Russia's most hated man.

A day after appearing in court in London on extradition charges, Mr Berezovsky was in the audience of the Russian Economic Forum as Mr Chubais gave a speech on the liberalisation of the Russian electricity market.

When World Service business reporter Hugh Fraser asked Mr Chubais about a newspaper report that said he was in the running for the title of most hated man in Russia, Mr Chubais suggested that Mr Berezovsky was a strong competitor and maybe they should share the title.

Mr Berezovsky later agreed, but said there is a key difference between them both.

"Chubais is hated, I am hated. But I am wanted but he is not wanted."

Mr Berezovsky is currently based in London and fighting extradition to Russia on charges of fraud relating to deals involving the maker of Lada cars. He says those charges are politically motivated.

Mr Chubais was President Yeltsin's privatisation minister. He oversaw the much criticised sale of Russia's natural resources to a select group of Russian businessmen - the so-called oligarchs.

Moving on?

Mr Chubais is now the high profile chairman of Russia's electricity monopoly - UES - which is at the early stages of being privatised.

It's a highly sensitive issue and the legislation is currently passing through the Russian parliament, the Duma.

Speaking at the forum, Mr Chubais said three years preparation time is needed for the liberalisation of the wholesale and retail sides of the market.

"We'll have regional experiments in regions of Russia both on the wholesale and the retail level," he said.

"All these steps I believe will help us to be ready to start real liberalisation."

Mr Berezovsky said he didn't believe the system had advanced enough to allow the privatisation of UES to be clean and transparent. He said it would be no more transparent than previous privatisations.

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