Fugitive Russian businessmen take part in election fraud protest in London

Some 100 people, including fugitive Russian businessmen Boris Berezovsky and Yevgeny Chichvarkin, gathered on Friday outside the Russian embassy in London to protest against the alleged fraud in Russian parliamentary elections, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.

Similar protests against the results of Sunday’s vote, in which the pro-Kremlin United Russia party retained its majority in parliament, are expected to take place on Saturday across Russia and in more than 20 other countries.

Chichvarkin, a co-founder of Russia’s largest mobile phone retailer Yevroset who is wanted in Russia on kidnapping and extortion charges, was one of the first to arrive at the embassy for the demonstration.

Taking part in the protest, he said, allowed him to “become part of what can affect the Russian political leadership through local media, public and political activists.”

The businessman went into a self-imposed exile in Britain in 2008, saying he faced imprisonment in Russia and could be killed if put behind bars.

When asked whether he believed that Russians living abroad should take part in such demonstrations, he replied: “They have not been deprived of Russian citizenship, and as Russian citizens, they have the right to have a say in determining [its future] from abroad.”

Tycoon Berezovsky arrived at the site of the protest with an anti-government placard, surrounded by his bodyguards.

Over a dozen criminal probes have been launched in Russia against Berezovsky, a one-time close associate of the late president Boris Yeltsin, including on charges of plotting to stage a coup and embezzling $13 million from a leading Russian bank.

Russia has issued multiple warrants for Berezovsky’s arrest and has repeatedly demanded his extradition from Britain.

Participants in the protest, which was organized by the Speak Up! human rights movement, were chanting slogans calling for the annulment of Sunday’s vote results and the holding of new elections.

Another similar protest is expected to take place outside the British Parliament building later in the day.


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