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    Berezovsky charged with plotting coup in Russia - lawyer -1

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    Fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky has been charged with plotting a coup in Russia, his lawyer said Monday.

    (Recasts lead, quote in para 2, adds details, background in para 3-15)

    MOSCOW, July 2 (RIA Novosti) - Fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky has been charged with plotting a coup in Russia, his lawyer said Monday.

    "The charge of conspiring to seize power has been brought [against Berezovsky]," Andrei Borovikov said, adding the accusation had come from the domestic security agency the FSB and was based on an interview with Britain's The Guardian in mid-April.

    Berezovsky told the newspaper that he had bankrolled Kremlin insiders conspiring to overthrow President Vladimir Putin. Earlier in January, the businessman also said in an interview with Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio station that he was "working" to stage a violent coup in the country.

    Russia's repeated demands for the extradition of Berezovsky, who lives in London as a political emigre and is wanted in Russia on other charges, including large-scale embezzlement and money laundering, have so far been refused.

    Earlier Monday, a Moscow court postponed until July 12 a trial in absentia of Berezovsky, who is accused of embezzling over 214 million rubles ($8.3 million) of Aeroflot airline money and laundering over 16 million rubles ($620,000) of the national flagship's funds in the late 1990s.

    The tycoon was accused in the late 1990s of setting up two front companies in Switzerland to divert millions of dollars from the carrier.

    The Aeroflot case was suspended after he fled to the U.K. in 2001 after falling out with Putin and was granted political asylum there in 2003. The Russian Prosecutor General's Office took up the case in April after the publication in The Guardian.

    Borovikov said the delay was due to an Aeroflot official's absence from the court session, and to the need to appoint a lawyer to act for Berezovsky.

    Berezovsky earlier forbad his defense team from participating in the Moscow hearings, saying he did not want "to be part of that farce."

    Berezovsky has repeatedly said charges against him are politically motivated, and his lawyers claimed Russian prosecutors have no evidence substantiating his guilt.

    The lawyer said Monday the businessman was likely to receive a two-year suspended sentence in the Aeroflot case - the sentence earlier handed out to two former Aeroflot executives. "We are expecting a guilty verdict."

    Under Russian legislation, the charges envision a prison term of up to 10 years.

    The lawyer also said that so far Berezovsky was not facing espionage charges following Russian businessman Andrei Lugovoi's statement that Berezovsky and his companion Alexander Litvinenko had been recruited by Britain's MI6 intelligence service.

    At a news conference in Moscow May 31, Lugovoi said Berezovsky had provided the secret service with documents from Russia's Security Council, when he was deputy head of the body. The FSB has opened an inquiry into the accusations.

    Relations between Russia and Britain strained following the death of Litvinenko, an FSB defector and outspoken Kremlin critic, from poisoning in London last November.

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