31 October 1955|
Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
|Died||12 February 2008
Leatherhead, Surrey, United Kingdom
|Occupation||Former Owner and CEO of Imedi, Oligarch, and Politician|
|Net worth||12 Billion before death, assets frozen or confiscated by Georgian Government|
Arkady "Badri" Patarkatsishvili (Georgian: ბადრი პატარკაციშვილი October 31, 1955 – February 12, 2008) was a Georgian businessman, who was also extensively involved in politics. He contested the 2008 Georgian presidential election and came third with 7.1% of the votes. Although his first name was Arkady, he was best known by the nickname "Badri".
Born in Tbilisi to a Jewish family, Patarkatsishvili's membership of the Soviet Communist party's youth wing, the Komsomol, gave him contacts he found useful later. Between 1994 and 2001, he lived in Moscow. To avoid prosecution on charges of alleged fraud in Russia, he moved to Tbilisi. Patarkatsishvili's business activities had made him the richest man in Georgia with an estimated wealth of $12 billion. In his Russian business deals, he was closely associated with Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky. In 1992, he became a deputy chief executive of Berezovsky's LogoVAZ group.
In January 1995, Patarkatsishvili became deputy chief executive with responsibility for finance at Russia's ORT TV. In March – May 2001, he was chief executive of Russia's TV6 channel, which, like ORT, was partly owned by Berezovsky. Early in 2006, he bought out Berezovskys stake in Moscow's independent Kommersant publishing house, which he sold on in August that year to senior Gazprom executive Alisher Usmanov.
Allegations of corruption
In June 2001, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office charged him with organizing an attempted escape from prison of Nikolay Glushkov - and, in October 2002, with involvement in an alleged grand fraud related to the AvtoVAZ case.
In 2007, numerous allegations of corruption were made against him. He was impeached as president of the Georgian National Olympic Committee, and also quit as a president of the Georgian Business Federation. Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV linked his name with several notorious murders in Russia and Georgia, including the assassination of Vlad Listyev.
Connection with Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky
According to The Times, Roman Abramovich submitted a 53-page court defence that accused Boris Berezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili of demanding huge sums for helping him to rise from obscurity. Arkady “Badri” Patarkatsishvili, emerges as the key intermediary, passing messages between Abramovich and Berezovsky. Mr Patarkatsishvili was offered $500 million by Roman Abramovich, the defence papers that were submitted admit, for protecting Roman in Russia's aluminium wars.
The Times reported that Boris Berezovsky was fighting Badri's widow for £3bn or half of Badri's fortune, after full one year of Badri's mysterious death last year, reportedly caused by heart-failure. It states: "The day after his [Badri's] death, Berezovsky asked Gudavadze [Badri's wife] to sign a statement acknowledging that half her husband’s assets belonged to him. The widow, who is represented by Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney-general, signed but has since changed her mind and sought to have the document annulled. "
Involvement in politics
Patarkatsishvili claimed to have helped Russian president Vladimir Putin to make his career. He had, he said, recommended Putin to Pavel Borodin, then a senior member of President Boris Yeltsin's Kremlin administration - and his business partner Boris Berezovsky, a Yeltsin insider, had got Putin appointed as Russian FSB director.
In late 2007, he became embroiled in a political scandal after former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili on September 25, 2007 accused Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia, of planning Patarkatsishvili's assassination. Arrested on corruption charges, however, Okruashvili retracted his accusations against the president, winning release on bail of 10 million Georgian lari (about 6,250,000 USD). He also said that his earlier accusations levelled against Saakashvili were not true and were aimed at gaining political dividends for himself and Badri Patarkatsishvili and at discrediting the President of Georgia. On November 6, Okruashvili, said on Patarkatsishvili's Imedi TV - by then managed by Fox TV's parent News Corporation - that he had been forced into retracting his accusations against Saakashvili by pressure that he endured in prison. Down the line from Munich, he said: "All of those accusations, all of those facts that I brought against Saakashvili, everything I said about him is the plain truth."
On October 29, 2007, Badri publicly announced his plans to finance ten opposition parties' campaign aimed at holding early parliamentary elections in April 2008. On November 2, 2007, he addressed a large anti-government rally held in downtown Tbilisi and pledged to further support it. He left Georgia for London shortly afterwards. After the demonstration turned violent, following police attacks, on November 7, 2007, Georgia's Chief Prosecutor's Office announced that he was suspected of conspiracy to overthrow the government. Nevertheless, he said he would run in the January 5, 2008 snap presidential elections under the slogan "Georgia without Saakashvili is Georgia without Terror." Leaders of the major opposition parties distanced themselves from Patarkatsishvili, who had to run as an independent presidential candidate.
On December 24 and 25, 2007, the prosecutor-general's office of Georgia released a series of audio and video recordings of the two separate meetings of the high-ranking Georgian Interior Ministry official Erekle Kodua with Patarkatsishvili and the head of his pre-election campaign Valeri Gelbakhiani. According to the government, Patarkatsishvili was trying to bribe Kodua to take part in what the Georgian officilas described as an attempted coup d'état on January 6, 2008, the next of the scheduled presidential elections. The plan included to stage a mass manifestation against the government and to "neutralize" the Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili. Later independent journalist Vakhtang Komakidze produced what he said was the full transcript of the recorded conversation which showed that Patarkatsishvili was advising against violence and the extracts released had been doctored The accusations forced Patarkatsishvili onto the defensive. He confirmed that he met with Kodua in London, but denied that the bribe was in connection to an alleged coup plot and claimed instead that his intention was to uncover what he said were official plans to rig the election. He also confirmed that he offered Kodua "a huge amount of money" in exchange for defecting from the authorities allegedly to avert a possible use of force by the government against the planned January rallies.
On December 28, 2007, Patarkatsishvili announced that he would withdraw his bid for presidency, but would nominally remain a candidate until January 4, 2008. On January 3, 2008, he reversed himself, however, and decided to run in presidential elections. In response, his top campaign official Giorgi Zhvania (brother of Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania) resigned, declaring that Patarkasishvili did not have the unquestionable reputation one would expect of a country's president.
Interest in sports
Patarkatsishvili was married to Inna Gudavadze.
Patarkatsishvili, aged 52, collapsed at Downside Manor, his mansion in Leatherhead, Surrey, England on February 12, 2008 at 10.45 pm. Ambulance crew members tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at 10.52 pm. As in any other case of unexpected death, Surrey police treated the case as "suspicious" and launched an official investigation.
The businessman spent his last day in the City of London office of international law firm Debevoise and Plimpton, meeting his business partner Boris Berezovsky, his spokesperson Lord Bell and his lawyer Lord Goldsmith QC, as well as fellow exiles, the Russians Nikolai Glushkov and Yuli Dubov From the City he left for Down Street, Mayfair, to visit Berezovsky's office, and at 7.00 pm was returned to Leatherhead with his Maybach. Shortly after dining, Patarkatsishvili told his family he felt unwell and went upstairs to his bedroom where he was found unconscious after a heart attack.
Preliminary reports indicated a heart attack as the cause of death. According to the first post-mortem tests, the death of Patarkatsishvili appeared to have been from natural cardiac-related causes. According to the pathologist Ashley Fegan-Earl, he could identify a "severity that could have resulted in a sudden and unexplained collapse and death at any time." He also concluded that chest pain that Patarkatsishvili had had and a sudden collapse "were consistent with death due to coronary heart diseases." Patarkatsishvili's father Shalva Patarkatsishvili also died of a heart attack at an early age of 48. The businessman had no history of illness but was reported to have led an unhealthy lifestyle, smoking excessively and taking no exercise. According to Lord Bell, "he [Badri] always looked 10 years older than he was." However, theories of a possible assassination were considered seriously by some. "[A] number of compounds known to be used by the former KGB can induce heart failure, but leave virtually no trace. One is sodium fluoroacetate, a fine white powder derived from pesticide." The British police checked Patarkatishvili's Surrey mansion for radioactive elements but reportedly found none.
British press coverage
London Lite was the first newspaper to inform the British public of the Georgian oligarch's death on the evening of 13 February 2008. In the news of 14 February 2008, Patarkatsishvili's death was covered in The Guardian, The Times, Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, etc. Most newspapers discussed Patarkatsishvili's business history, including his close ties with Boris Berezovsky, Roman Abramovich, Alexander Litvinenko, Mikheil Saakashvili and Vladimir Putin.
International press coverage
Associated Press reported that on December 26, 2007, Patarkatsishvili said that he had obtained a tape recording of an official in his homeland's Interior Ministry asking a Chechen warlord to murder the tycoon in London. "I believe they want to kill me," he said. He said the tape had been given to police.
Novaya Gazeta reported the following information. Patarkatsishvili, living in London, was approached by members of the Saakashvili government demanding that he sell his controlling share in the dissident Imedi TV network. Initially, Patarkatsishvili refused, but was then offered an unprecedented deal: exchanging ownership of Imedi for ownership of the entire Georgian railroad system. Being a businessman, Patarkatsishvili reportedly agreed; however, when the Saakashvili side sent him the contract, there was a new clause, which required Badri to invest $2,000,000,000 in the "improvement" of the railroad property. He refused, but died shortly after. Novaya Gazeta's source is one of the lawyers from the legal side of this deal.
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- "Незадолго до смерти Бадри Патаркацишвили власти Грузии предлагали ему взамен телекомпании "Имеди" грузинские железные дороги (in Russian)?". Regnum News Agency. 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-02-16.