Russian court backs Berezovsky conviction

February 05, 2008, Tuesday/ 18:53:00
A Russian court on Monday upheld a six-year jail term against self-exiled Russian businessman and fierce Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky for embezzling millions of dollars from the Aeroflot airline.Berezovsky has been granted refugee status in London and claims the conviction in absentia was politically motivated. He was found guilty last November of embezzling 214 million roubles ($8.76 million), with an organized criminal group, from the airline in the 1990s. Lawyers for Russia's Prosecutor-General, Yuri Chaika, were backed by the Moscow City Court. It rejected Berezovksy's appeal against the Nov. 29 ruling in the district Savelovsky Court.  The businessman's lawyer Alexander Dudkin insisted in court that his client was innocent and stated that "there is nothing illegal in Berezovsky's actions, as described in this case. Britain has rejected Russia's demand for Berezovsky's extradition to stand trial in Moscow, one of several irritants that have damaged relations between the capitals. Berezovsky also employed Alexander Litvinenko, a former state security agent turned critic of the Kremlin who was murdered by radiation poisoning in London in 2006.

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