Berezovsky calls new charges groundless

Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, a onetime Kremlin insider who went intoexile after President Vladimir Putin came to power, on Thursday deniedcharges that he and an associate had stolen thousands of automobiles tohelp build his business empire. "I think it's just absolutely politicallymotivated," Berezovsky said by telephone a day after Deputy ProsecutorGeneral Vladimir Kolesnikov said a criminal case had been opened againstBerezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili for allegedly stealing cars worthabout $13 million from the Russian automaker AvtoVAZ in 1994-95.Berezovsky, Patarkatsishvili and others in 1989 set up a company calledLogoVaz, which became the official dealer for AvtoVaz, Russia's largestautomaker. LogoVaz later functioned as the holding company for a range ofBerezovsky investments, including newspapers and television networks.Berezovsky noted he had fled Russia to avoid a criminal investigation intothe alleged embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars from thenational airline Aeroflot. He claims that this case is politicallymotivated as well and that the new allegations of car theft are more of thesame, claiming that Russia is not serious about bringing him to trialbecause it has not filed a request with Interpol for his detention andextradition, the Russia Journal reported..

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