Russian exile's would-be assassin deported from UK

A hitman sent to London to murder exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky was arrested and deported back to Russia, police confirmed Wednesday night.

Russian exile's would-be assassin deported from UK
A hitman sent to London to murder exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky was arrested and deported back to Russia, police confirmed Wednesday night.

The man was arrested in central London on June 21 and handed over to immigration officials two days later, Scotland Yard said.

Detectives were so concerned for Berezovsky's safety they asked him to leave the country while they foiled the plot.

Berezovsky said he was pleased Scotland Yard had confirmed his story and that he was no longer the source of the story.

"I am happy that Britain is very strong in protecting people in this country," he told BBC TV.

He said it was "useless" to try to protect himself against such assassination attempts but would rely on the protection of the UK which had offered him asylum.

He added: "It is very strange that British Government protects a Russian citizen in London and to the contrary Russia tries to kill a Russian citizen in London." The alleged assassination plot is likely to put further strain on London-Moscow relations.

Berezovsky, 61, is a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was a friend of murdered former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko.

Britain is waiting for Russia's response to its expulsion of four diplomats in the row over the extradition of Andrei Lugovoy, suspected of killing Litvinenko.

It is believed the alleged killer planned to murder Berezovsky at the Hilton hotel in central London's prestigious Park Lane neighbourhood, press reports said.

However officers from the British security services MI5 and MI6 were tipped off and intervened, The Sun newspaper said.

The newspaper claimed the potential assassin planned to lure Berezovsky to a meeting and had taken a child with him so he looked less suspicious.

A government source said: "Boris Berezovsky is a high-profile critic of the Russian government. Our experience is that the Russians are prepared to take action against their critics." Berezovsky told a news conference earlier today that he received threatening letters as soon as he had moved to the UK.

Then in 2002 he was officially informed by Scotland Yard that there was a plot to kill him.
"Three months ago, I had visits from my friends from Moscow, who had links to the FSB (successor to the KGB).

"They told me the FSB were creating a plot to kill me. They told me someone who knew me would travel to London, and would call to meet me, and he would kill me and would not try to hide.

"He would explain that it was for business reasons, he had a problem with me in business, and he decided to kill me, and he will get 20 years," he said.

"He will spend 10 years in jail, will be released, will have a lot of money, and will be a hero of Russia. I didn't take it seriously, but what happened later, is exactly what they said," he added.

Berezovsky said that a month ago, officers from Scotland Yard informed him there was a plot to kill him, and they asked him to leave the country as quickly as possible, and he did so, on June 16, returning a week later when they told him he could do so.

Berezovsky claimed Russian President Putin was moving towards a totalitarian system, which was criminal.

"The mentality of almost everybody who works for this organisation is criminal," he said.
And the same people were behind the plot against him as were behind the plot against Litvinenko, he said.

Asked why he thought he was being targeted, he said: "They are trying to reach me because I concentrate a group of people who create real opposition, opposition able to act, and I have enough money to support this opposition." Asked how much money he had sent to Russia, he said: "Three or four hundred million dollars."

Asked how he thought Russia would respond in the current diplomatic crisis, he said: "I don't think Russia will take strong steps now. Russia tried to eliminate the case of Litvinenko, they tried to make it quiet. The reaction is slow, they don't know how to answer, and aren't able to say they were not prepared."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Temmuz 2007, 10:17