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He was one of a handful of well-connected businessmen who became instant billionaires under former president Boris Yeltsin when the state arranged for them to buy giant state owned companies for what quickly proved to be a fraction of their value.
As one of the central figures in Yeltsin's inner circle, he helped forge the career of Yeltsin's hand-picked successor Putin, an obscure and quiet official named prime minister in 1999 and acting president when Yeltsin resigned on millennium eve.
After Putin was confirmed in the presidency in an election in 2000, Berezovsky quickly fell out with him and left for Britain from where he consistently denounced his former ally as corrupt.