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Enquiry THURSDAY, 13 March 2008

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Mikhail Chernoy: Oleg Deripaska Fails to Portray Me as Russia's Enemy

Rather than paying his debts, Deripaska attempts to discredit me - and fails.


Israel News Agency Staff


Jerusalem. July 17. A fictitious, front organization naming itself the Russian Press Center that, according to political analysts in Moscow, is funded by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, keeps promoting on the Internet certain libelous "reports" about the Russian oligarchs living in the West - primarily Boris Berezovsky, Michael Cherney (Mikhail Chernoy), and Leonid Nevzlin - preparing an "orange" revolution in Russia, including a change of Putin's regime and their own triumphal comeback to Moscow.
All three are Israel citizens, though at the time Berezovsky gave up Israel citizenship when he got appointed to Yeltsin's administration. After he fled Putin's Russia, he received British citizenship and political refugee status. Indeed, Berezovsky, an open opponent of Putin's regime, has been spotted in the last year in the company of Michael Cherney (Mikhail Chernoy) in Israel. The latter lives in the same neighborhood, Herzlia Pituakh, as Nevzlin does. Could it be that these three oligarchs are indeed planning a democratic revolution in Russia?
The Israel News Agency attempted to contact all three for comment. Only Cherney responded.
According to archives in the Israel News Agency, Michael Cherney (Mikhail Chernoy) is a prominent international businessman, a citizen of Israel who made his fortune in the former Soviet Union's metals industry in early '90s.
Of late, Cherney has received media attention due to the lawsuit he filed against his former partner Oleg Deripaska, who is currently Russia's richest person. Michael Cherney (Mikhail Chernoy) had introduced Deripaska to the metals business by making him his manager and then his partner.
Chernoy filed his lawsuit against Deripaska in the Commercial Court of the High Court in London on 24 November 2006. Chernoy is seeking $3 billion from Deripaska, which, he claims, represents 20 per cent of Rusal's stock for which he has yet to be paid.
Respected sources in Moscow allege that Oleg Deripaska is behind a new Russia media campaign that is targeting Michael Chernoy. They also allege that the campaign is designed to send a message to the latter: a criminal investigation against Chernoy may be initiated in Moscow as a retaliation for his suit against Deripaska.
"I am not an oligarch. By definition, an oligarch is someone who is involved in and actively influences big politics. I was never involved in politics, even when I was active in Russian business in early 90s. I have resided in Israel since 1994 and I have no interest in Russian business."
- Mikhail Chernoy
 "Let me start off by saying that I am not an oligarch," Chernoy told the INA. "By definition, an oligarch is someone who is involved in and actively influences big politics. I was never involved in politics, even when I was active in Russia business in early 90s. I have resided in Israel since 1994 and I have no interest either in Russia business, which I have left - I'm merely waiting for a settlement with ex-partners - or in Russian politics. I am far more interested in and anxious about the political situation in Israel. But even here I function as philanthropist and try to affect social development - not politics."
Cherney continues: "Regardless of who is in charge in Russia, I have no plans of going back either to Russian business or public life, especially since I have never been a Russian citizen. Moreover, I am perfectly aware of the origin of the absurd story of my participation in the "out-of-favor oligarch's conspiracy against Putin". This is a dirty and destructive smear campaign consisting of the most twisted rumors that are being bandied about in the international media by my former partners who do not wish to live up to their financial obligations to me and others. Instead they are trying to create an environment through the most transparent propaganda hoping that the Russian authorities will turn against me or fabricate criminal charges against me in Moscow. If these corrupt, dishonest individuals are trying to evade those they have committed fraud against as 'Enemies of Russia', they are doing their country a major disservice by creating an impression that the government of Russia can and will be manipulated."
Analysts in Russia believe that the crux of the matter is that Oleg Deripaska has broken his contract with Chernoy and is now trying to dodge justice. The only way Deripaska can prove today that he's in the right and does not owe Cherney anything is to come to court openly - though any independent judge is most likely to confirm that his agreement with Chernoy stipulates that Deripaska has to pay.
Following his repatriation to Israel, Michael Cherney maintains business interests in Russia and post-Soviet states, while developing new business contacts between Russia, Europe, Israel, and the US.
In Israel, Michael Cherney spends much effort on charity and humanitarian projects that reinforce cooperation between Israel and Russia in fighting terrorism.
Michael Chernoy established a Website for his Foundation on June 1, 2001, the night of the terrorist bombing outside the Dolphinarium Disco in Tel Aviv. When Michael Cherney learned the number of victims - 21 dead and over 150 wounded - he realized that rendering assistance required a systematic organized effort.
Prior to 2001, Cherney was engaged in charity work in Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, Bulgaria, the US - wherever he did business. He made valuable contributions into Jewish philanthropy in Russia.
Following the Dolphinarium terrorist tragedy, the Cherney Fund became the helping hand for all its victims. In a misfortune like this, emigres from the former Soviet countries are even worse off than those born in Israel: they don't have a support system or savings.
The Cherney Fund, therefore, renders help mostly to the new arrivals to Israel, victims of catastrophes and terrorist acts that continue to bleed Israel, as well as to the low-income victims of terror in other countries. Another equally important task assumed by the Cherney Foundation is the media effort in war on terror. Shortly after the Dolphinarium attack, the Foundation published a book called Dolphinarium: Terror Targets the Young.
The Michael Cherney Foundation has established grants for students from the former Soviet Union in all major Israel universities with an annual endowment of one million shekels.
Mr. Chernoy and his family live in a suburb of Tel Aviv.
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