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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky Charged With Coup Plot

The Prosecutor General's Office said Thursday that it had asked Britain to extradite Boris Berezovsky on charges of plotting a coup, after the businessman acknowledged in a radio interview that he hoped to overthrow President Vladimir Putin.

Prosecutors sent the request to Britain's Home Office on Wednesday, accusing Berezovsky of preparing a "violent seizure of power," the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement.

The announcement came days after British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw warned that his government might revoke Berezovsky's refugee status over the same interview with Ekho Moskvy.

In the January interview, Berezovsky said he had been working for 18 months to depose Putin, whom he called an illegitimate and unconstitutional president.

The prosecutors' statement did not link the interview to the new charge, which it filed on Feb. 16 and ordered the Federal Security Service to investigate.

Spokespeople for the Prosecutor General's Office and the Federal Security Service on Thursday declined to say if the charges were based on the interview or to give further details.

A conviction of plotting a coup carries a prison sentence of 12 to 20 years.

Then-British Home Secretary David Blunkett granted Berezovsky asylum in September 2003, and a London court then refused to extradite Berezovsky to Russia on fraud and tax evasion charges, which Berezovsky has called political.

As for the latest charge, Berezovsky said Thursday that he hoped British authorities would conduct a "thorough study of the arguments to be provided by the Russian side," Ekho Moskvy reported. "I strongly believe in the triumph of British justice," he said.

A British court is unlikely to start extradition proceedings unless Home Secretary Charles Clarke revokes Berezovsky's refugee status, said Bill Bowring, a senior official with the London-based European Human Rights Advocacy Center.