Russian tycoons face off in London court

A battle between two Russian billionaires is taking place in a London court. The owner of the Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich, is being sued by fellow tycoon Boris Berezovsky for more than $5 billion.

On one side in this extraordinary lawsuit is Abramovich, a former governor of Russia’s Chukotka region and one of the most influential men in Russia. On the other side there is Boris Berezovsky, a former media mogul who was forced to flee Russia and seek asylum in the UK.

Berezovsky claims that Abramovich conned him out of more than $3 billion by intimidating him into selling shares in Sibneft, an oil company which they created together with a third partner. He says Abramovich forced him to sell shares at a fraction of their real value.

Berezovsky claims that he was friends with Abramovich, but their partnership collapsed when “wealth and influence became more important to Abramovich than loyalty had been.”

The case opened on Monday, and is expected to last for at least 12 weeks.

During the first month Berezovsky will testify, and in early November Abramovich will take the stand.