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Russia raps UK over unruly exiles

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Russia raps UK over unruly exiles

Russia's Foreign Ministry has summoned a senior British diplomat to complain about what it said were anti-Russian activities by exiles living in the UK.

It urged the UK to stop tycoon Boris Berezovsky and Chechen rebel spokesman Akhmed Zakayev making what it called "slanderous statements" in public.

Both men have been granted political asylum in Britain, and Russia has repeatedly sought their extradition.

The ministry said their remarks had received wide coverage in UK media.

However, the government in London had not given an adequate official response, it said.


The ministry told British Charge d'Affaires Stephen Wordsworth that London was "fully responsible" for the remarks and actions of Mr Zakayev, Mr Berezovsky and other exiles.

"It was noted that the slanderous remarks are receiving increasingly broad coverage in the media, including in the state-run BBC, but are not met with an adequate official response," it said in a statement.

Mr Zakayev has been critical of Russian government policy in Chechnya and called for peace talks there.

The UK refused earlier this year to extradite him to face terrorism, murder and kidnapping charges in Russia.

More recently Russia has accused Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, whom Mr Zakayev is close to, of involvement in the school siege in Beslan in which more than 300 people died. Both men have denied involvement and condemned the siege.

Mr Berezovsky fled Russia in 2000 to evade fraud charges he says are politically motivated.

A close associate of former president Boris Yeltsin, he profited from the rapid privatisation process in the early 1990s.

But his fortunes changed under Mr Putin, who has been trying to reduce the political influence of Russian tycoons

He is now seen as a fierce critic of Moscow, and in recent days has been vocal in attacking Mr Putin's handling of the Beslan crisis.

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