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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutors: Aeroflot Suspect Tried to Flee

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Prosecutors said a former Aeroflot manager charged with fraud tried to sneak out of a Moscow clinic last week in what may have been an escape attempt orchestrated by Boris Berezovsky.

A lawyer for former first deputy Aeroflot director Nikolai Glushkov denied that his client had tried to flee from the clinic, where he was being treated for a blood disease.

Berezovsky, who is living in self-imposed exile abroad, called allegations about his involvement a provocation and said Russian authorities had promised to free Glushkov in exchange for his selling a stake in state-controlled ORT television, Interfax reported.

News about Glushkov comes as the Prosecutor General's Office moves to wrap up an investigation into whether two Swiss companies allegedly linked to Berezovsky defrauded Aeroflot of $900 million. The probe led to the arrest of Glushkov in December and to charges being brought against three other people. A trial is scheduled to start in July.

Leonid Troshin, spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office, said Friday that Glushkov tried to leave the Hematological Center on Novy Zykovsky Proyezd in a chauffeur-driven Volvo at 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

Two police guards assigned to guard Glushkov were nowhere to be seen, he said.

Police had received a tip-off that Glushkov may try to escape and were waiting for him.

The Volvo driver and two guards were detained, but it was unclear whether charges would be brought against them, Troshin said, adding that $900 had been found on one of the guards.

Police officers earn about $150 month.

Glushkov's lawyer Andrei Borovkov said Glushkov had not bribed the guards nor tried to flee the clinic, the Strana.ru web site reported.

Vladimir Kolesnikov, aide to Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov, told reporters Friday that an escape attempt had been made and said that prosecutors were investigating whether Berezovsky and a business partner, Badri Patarkatsihvili, had played a role.

Kolesnikov said his office had been tipped off in advance that Patarkatsihvili, who is residing abroad, was arranging the escape "of his friend named Nikolai."

Berezovsky said the prosecutors' announcement about Glushkov was a sign that the Aeroflot case was groundless and aimed "at suppressing those who don't agree" with the Kremlin, Interfax reported.

Berezovsky also told Interfax that the Russian authorities had promised him that Glushkov would be released in exchange for the sale of his stake in ORT to Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich. Berezovsky sold his 49 percent of ORT earlier this year to Abramovich, an oil tycoon who is believed to enjoy close ties with the Kremlin.

A source in the Prosecutor General's Office flatly denied that any such swap had been agreed upon.