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    Russian prosecutors charge Berezovsky with $13 mln embezzlement - 1

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    Russian prosecutors have brought a new $13 million embezzlement charge against Boris Berezovsky, a fugitive tycoon residing in the U.K., a defense lawyer said Monday.

    (Adds details, background after paragraph 2)

    MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russian prosecutors have brought a new $13 million embezzlement charge against Boris Berezovsky, a fugitive tycoon residing in the U.K., a defense lawyer said Monday.

    "Berezovsky is charged with organizing a criminal group to obtain credit funds of SBS-Agro in 1997 to buy real estate on the Mediterranean coast in France," Andrei Borovkov said.

    A Moscow court said Monday Russia's Prosecutor General's Office demanded that fugitive tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who was granted political asylum in the U.K., be arrested in absentia on new embezzlement charges.

    "The Basmanny District Court received a request for the restraint of Boris Berezovsky," Anna Usachyova, the press secretary of the Moscow City Court, said.

    Borovkov said that in the new case, a commercial organization obtained loans, and "after a few transactions, money came to companies allegedly controlled by Berezovsky," adding that Berezovsky did not actually have anything to do with them.

    Another lawyer, Semyon Aria, said Berezovsky rented a country house in France in 1997. "Later the house was sold to a British company," he said, adding that Berezovsky was not involved.

    The Prosecutor General's Office launched criminal proceedings in the case June 29. Aria also said this is the 11th case against his client started in Russia.

    Berezovsky is also wanted in Russia on other charges, including fraud and plotting a coup.

    Berezovsky could face over 12 years in prison under Russian law if found guilty.

    The Prosecutor General's Office said Monday it was seeking the seizure of Berezovsky's property in France.

    Russian authorities have repeatedly demanded the businessman's extradition, but British authorities have turned them all down.

    In early July, a diplomatic row raised tensions in bilateral relations when Russian prosecutors formally refused to extradite former Kremlin bodyguard-turned-businessman Andrei Lugovoi, accused by the U.K. of poisoning former Russian security officer and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium last November, citing the constitutional provision prohibiting the extradition of Russian nationals.

    In response, Britain expelled four Russian diplomats last week and imposed visa restrictions on Russian officials, and Moscow followed suit by expelling British diplomats and promising similar visa restrictions. The countries have also suspended antiterrorism cooperation.

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