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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Authorities Shut Down Berezovsky Coup Case

Russian prosecutors have halted an investigation into Boris Berezovsky, the billionaire businessman living in exile in London who has been accused of planning a coup, Itar-Tass reported Monday.

Berezovsky, who fled Russia for Britain after falling foul of the Kremlin under President Vladimir Putin, told journalists last January that he had been planning a forced takeover of power in Russia.

Russian prosecutors opened a formal investigation and Jack Straw, then Britain's foreign minister, warned Berezovsky that his residency status could be reviewed if he continued to advocate a coup.

"The case in relation to my client has been halted," Berezovsky's lawyer Andrei Borovkov told Itar-Tass.

"The Prosecutor General's Office has informed us that ... further investigation in the absence of the suspect is impossible," Borovkov said.

A spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office declined to comment on the report.

Berezovsky helped Putin to power during the last days of former President Boris Yeltsin's second term, but later fell out with the new regime and fled Russia in 2000.

He became a vociferous enemy of Putin's from his base in London.

Berezovsky told the Ekho Mosvky radio station in January 2006 that he had been planning a "forced takeover of power" and said the action was justified because Putin's rule was unconstitutional.

He repeated the claims in an interview, but in a letter to the British Foreign Office he explained that he had not meant violence, but a "bloodless" change of regime.

Berezovsky is the most powerful of a group of Russian opposition exiles living in London that includes Chechen leader Akhmed Zakayev, KGB defector Oleg Gordiyevsky and, until his death last November, former security services agent Alexander Litvinenko.