26 January 2022, Wednesday, 13:55
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Mark Zeltser: “People disappear in Belarus. Next time, it will a bullet in the head”


The brother of the released American lawyer blamed the Belarusian authorities of arbitrary laws.

Mark Zeltser gave an interview to Euroradio yesterday on his way to the airport to meet his brother flying from Minsk.

It has become clear that the hunt for Badri Patarkatsishvili's money stands behind the whole story about Emmanuel who was his lawyer. You call Boris Berezovsky as the main hunter. Do you fear that the hunt for the money will continue and Emmanuel will still be in danger?

– You have asked a very right question. Now that he has been freed, will he continue to fight? I don't know. I have not spoken to him yet; he has not arrived yet. But he is a very prominent and serious lawyer. I don't know if he continues to deal with this case or not.

You know, Badri (Patarkatsishvili) left his last will. He left money for his family: 25 percent to each of the two wives: 5 or 10 percent for each of his children, etc. Neither Berezovsky nor Emmanuel nor Joseph Kay are naturally not mentioned in the last will. My brother dealt with this case, because Badri was his client for the past 14 years. Eventually, he suffered, because Berezovsky decided that half of the money if not all the money belonged to him.

I did not know Badri, Berezovsky or Kay. They are fighting for some crazy money. I need my brother to be fine. My opinion and my advice is that he should not think about the past; he should close this chapter and start thinking about the future and not do anything else. We know about the incident in Belarus; it had no legal grounds. The same is about Berezovsky. He did not like something; he put his friend on a plane and sent to Belarus so that he could disappear there. Next time, it will a bullet in the head.

If I cannot wrestle with a man (when he is in a different weight category as my conservatorium professor put it), what can I do? I am not a killer; I am not a criminal; I will not shoot at him. But he can. These are not equal forces! Russian, British law-enforcement agencies (who keep Berezovsky in exile) must have been involved. Belarus is also involved because it was supposed to extradite Berezovsky. But this is something to be decided by my brother, not me. But I will advise him not to get involved”.

We remind that Emanuel Zeltser is a lawyer of US citizen Joseph Kay – a distant relative of Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili. After Patarkatsishvili died on February 12, 2008, Kay showed documents appointing his an executor of Patarkatsishvili’s will. The documents were prepared by Zeltser, but relatives of the late tycoon said they were forged, and Zeltser was detained in Minsk. Zeltser is supposed to have flown to Belarus in respect with Patarkatsishvili’s will confirmed by this he authenticity of the documents.

Zeltser’s relatives say Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky, Patarkatsishvili’s friend, is involved in his arrest. According to them, he gave evidence at a trial in Minsk and visited Zeltser in a KGB remand jail. Berezovsky and Belarusian official bodies neither confirm nor deny this information.

Badri Patarkatsishvili was considered to be the richest man in Georgia. According to the media, his estate is 12 billion dollars.

Zeltser and his secretary Vladlena Funk were detained on March 12, 2008. On August 11, Zeltser was sentenced to thee years in prison and Funk for one year for the use of fake documents and attempted commercial espionage. They didn’t admit their guilt.

On October 31, the Supreme Court of Belarus upheld the decision. All trials were held behind closed doors.

The United States repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to release Zeltser on humanitarian grounds because his health deteriorated considerably in prison.

On June 30, Alyaksandr Lukashenka had a meeting with American congressmen in Minsk. The Belarusian ruler promised the congressmen to free Zeltser and gave him pardon. Emanuel Zeltser was released from a penal colony in Mahilou in the evening June 30.