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Aeroflot Sues Berezovsky in Britain for $24M

LONDON — Aeroflot asked a British court to force self-exiled businessman Boris Berezovsky to pay back money that Russian prosecutors say he stole from the country's largest airline in the 1990s.

Aeroflot is seeking 720 million rubles ($24.3 million), including interest, from Berezovsky and Nikolai Glushkov, a former executive at the company also living in Britain, according to a lawsuit filed last month in London.

The lawsuit follows Berezovsky's 2007 conviction by a Russian court in absentia on charges that he used a Swiss company, Andava, to embezzle money from the state-controlled carrier. Berezovsky fled Russia in 2001 and didn't return to face the charges, which he claims are politically motivated.

Berezovsky, 66, is no stranger to the British legal system, having spent three months at the High Court last year for a $6.8 billion claim against his former friend Roman Abramovich, which is awaiting judgment. He has also fought lawsuits against at least three former business partners, a yacht broker and Forbes magazine since gaining political asylum in Britain.

A Moscow court sentenced Berezovsky to six years in prison in 2007 over a fraud carried out "from 1996 to 1997 against Aeroflot through Andava, a Swiss company of which Mr. Glushkov and Mr. Berezovsky were co-founders and shareholders," the company's lawyers said in the papers.

"Those Russian proceedings are the result of politically motivated charges and the judgments were entered against Mr. Berezovsky in absentia without a fair trial," said Jennifer Morgan, Berezovsky's spokeswoman, in an e-mailed statement.

There was no phone number listed for Glushkov's Berkshire address. Aeroflot's press office didn't respond to phone calls and e-mails requesting comment.

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