MOSCOW, July 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's top prosecutor's office said Friday British authorities' refusal to open a criminal case against fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky over his calls to overthrow President Vladimir Putin was unjustified.
"Calls for a violent change of power are a criminal offense in any civilized country. The Prosecutor General's Office does not share its British colleagues' view," a prosecutor said.
Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said Monday that it had examined Berezovsky's April 13 online interview with The Guardian and determined he was rather calling for civil disobedience, and that therefore he could not be stripped of his refugee status granted in 2001, which would mean his extradition to Russia.
Russia has been seeking Berezovsky's extradition since 2002 on charges of money laundering, fraud, and plotting a coup in Russia.
Berezovsky told the newspaper that he had bankrolled Kremlin insiders conspiring to overthrow President Vladimir Putin. Earlier in January, the businessman also said in an interview with Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio station that he was "working" to stage a coup in the country.
Russia's repeated demands for the extradition of Berezovsky, who lives in London as a political emigre, have so far been refused.
Earlier, a Moscow court postponed until July 12 a trial in absentia for Berezovsky, who is accused of embezzling over 214 million rubles ($8.3 million) of Aeroflot airline money and laundering over 16 million rubles ($620,000) of the national flagship's funds in the late 1990s.
The Aeroflot case was suspended after he fled to the U.K. in 2001 after falling out with Putin and was granted political asylum there in 2003. The Russian Prosecutor General's Office took up the case in April after the publication of his interview in The Guardian.
Berezovsky has repeatedly said charges against him are politically motivated, and his lawyers claimed Russian prosecutors have no evidence substantiating his guilt.
Relations between Russia and Britain have been strained following the death of Alexander Litvinenko, an FSB defector and outspoken Kremlin critic, from poisoning in London last November.
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
Image Galleries: This Week in Pictures
Infographics: Nobel Peace Prize