Exiled anti-Kremlin tycoon Boris Berezovsky has been charged by the FSB security service with plotting a violent coup to overthrow President Vladimir Putin and will be tried in absentia in Moscow, according to Russian press reports.
The independent Ekho Moskvi radio station reported on Tuesday that Berezovsky, who already faces charges of embezzling from the state airline Aeroflot, has been hit with additional charges of sedition in connection with statements he recently made to a British newspaper.
In an interview with The Guardian in April, Berezovsky said he was funding various Russian opposition groups with the aim of removing Putin from power.
He later amended his remarks to insist that he will use only peaceful methods. "I do support direct actions, but I do not advocate or support violence," Berezovsky said in a statement.
Berezovsky, a former Kremlin insider who fled to Britain after falling out with Putin six years ago, has devoted his estimated $1-billion fortune to what he calls “fighting for democracy” in Russia and ending Putin’s “tyranny”.
His “in absentia” trial on embezzlement charges opened in Moscow on Monday, but the exiled tycoon said his Russian lawyers would not participate.
Berezovsky told journalists on Tuesday that the additional charges, of plotting to overthrow Putin, were a Kremlin-orchestrated “farce”. The goal, he said, is to divert attention from British efforts to extradite from Russia a former KGB agent, Andrei Lugovoi, who is charged by Britain with murdering Berezovsky’s friend, Alexander Litvinenko, with radioactive Polonium-210 in London last year.