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18 Jul, 2007 21:01

Boris Berezovsky reveals 'assassination plot'

British police have confirmed they arrested a man suspected of plotting to kill Boris Berezovsky – the self-exiled Russian billionaire and close ally of Litvinenko. Britain is gaining EU support in the row with Russia.

London's Metropolitan Police say a man was arrested on June 21 and released two days later without charge before being handed to immigration officials.

Boris Berezovsky says the man was deported to Russia, but that has not been confirmed by any officials.

The police statement came hours after Mr Berezovsky said he had fled the country for about a week in mid-June after police warned him his life was in danger.

Meantime, London is stilll waiting on an official response to the expulsion of four Russian diplomats, following Moscow's refusal to hand over Andrey Lugovoy to London, where he is accused of murder.

Russia and the current state of the relationship between the two countries were in focus at the session of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the UK Parliament. Fourteen MPs from the government and opposition who examine the administration and policy of the Foreign Office had a pack of questions for Europe Minister, Jim Murphy, and other Foreign Office officials.

The main question was how far will Britain go in this dispute?

“Britain has sufficient evidence against Lugovoy, and Litvinenko's murder was horrific. The CPS has to decide if Berezovsky and others have a sufficient case presented against them,” Europe Minister Jim Murphy said.

The man in question – Boris Berezovsky – was giving a press conference at the very same moment.

The self-exiled billionaire, wanted in Russia on serious charges – from fraud to formenting a coup – received political asylum in Britain in 2003. In a separate development a court in Brazil last week issued an arrest warrant for Berezovsky on charges of money laundering. Supported by one of the most famous British spin doctors – Lord Bell – and famous himself for spinning public opinion Berezovsky was explaining to the media how British special services foiled a plot to assassinate him. He also confessed he had spent between $US 300 and 400 MLN since 2001 – just funding opposition groups in his former homeland.

“They were spent for the years which I spent here, including the Orange revolution, including Russian opposition, including institute of civil society, including foundation which I created in New York – for Civil Liberties. I think that all together I spent around $US 300-400 MLN. I openly declare my target. I feel that Russia needs a revolution. And according to my definition – a revolution is a changing of a less effective society to more effective society,” Mr Berezovsky said.

The Russian Ambassador to Britain said neither the Embassy nor Moscow have received any official information from British police about the alleged assassination plot.

“We haven't received any official information from Scotland Yard or any other law-enforcement agencies, although police usually inform the embassy about all the cases of detention, arrest or deportation of Russian citizens. Berezovsky is known not only for financial and political fraud, but also for propaganda claims. So, being a criminal wanted in Russia and other countries, he tries to act like a politician, like an opposition member and attract attention to himself,” said Yury Fedotov, Russia's Ambassador to UK.

In the meantime, Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband visited Paris and Berlin on Tuesday – seeking support among members of the European Union.

The EU issued a statement urging Russia to co-operate with Britain over London's request. David Miliband hopes to get more backing for Britain's actions in Brussels on Monday.

By then Russia is expected to have responded to the expulsion of its diplomats. And everyone agrees the issue is bound to dominate bilateral relations in the near future.