Boris Berezovsky says he only holds Russian citizenship

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LONDON/MOSCOW, October 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom in 2003, denied on Friday media reports that he had been allegedly seeking South African citizenship.

Russian media reported on Friday that Berezovsky, whose extradition has been requested by Russia, was currently in South Africa to oversee formalities connected with obtaining citizenship.

"Firstly, I am in London. Secondly, the only citizenship I have is Russian. No other citizenship exists," Berezovsky said, in a telephone interview with RIA Novosti.

Berezovsky, who actually holds dual Russian and Israeli citizenship, is widely reported to have British citizenship as well, but under the assumed name of Platon Elenin. While no reason has ever been given for the exile's unusual choice of name, Platon is the name of a character in "Tycoon," a 2002 Russian film based on the oligarch's life. Elena is Berezovsky's wife's name.

The South African Embassy in Moscow refused to comment on whether the fugitive oligarch was currently in the country.

A source close to Berezovsky said in an interview published on Friday in Russia's tabloid Tvoi Den that the British authorities were unhappy with recent developments surrounding the fugitive Russian billionaire.

In April, Berezovsky told the English Guardian newspaper that he was "plotting a new Russian Revolution." The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office subsequently studied the remarks in order to determine if they breached the terms of the businessman's political refugee status.

However, London has repeatedly rejected Russia's requests to extradite Berezovsky, who is accused of embezzling $13 million from a leading Russian bank.

Russian prosecutors recently added to charges against Berezovsky, charging him in absentia with the embezzlement of over 214 million rubles ($8.3 million) from Russia's flagship air carrier, Aeroflot, and also laundering more than 16 million rubles ($620,000).

Russia is not the only country to bring charges against the oligarch. In July, a Brazilian court issued an order for Berezovsky's arrest on money laundering charges connected with an investment group, London-based Media Sports Investment, which the Russian is accused of partly owning.

Brazilian investigators said Berezovsky, who is also a business partner of Neil Bush, brother of the current U.S. president, could have been involved in the controversial transfer of the Argentinean soccer player, Carlos Tevez, from Corinthians to England's West Ham United last year.

The tycoon has said that the allegations are part of a Kremlin campaign against him.

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