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Putin's critic dismisses Kremlin's accusations in Litvinenko case as "science fiction," reasons for Litvineko's conversion to Islam revealed

by Ted Lipien Logo and Link to Home Page Free Media Online, Dublin, CA, December 29, 2006 -- In an interview aired Friday by the Voice of America (VOA) Russian Service, exiled Russian businessman and President Putin's critic Boris Berezovsky dismissed the latest accusations by Moscow in the Litvinenko poisoning case as moving beyond absurd into the realm of science fiction. Mr. Berezovsky was reacting to the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office announcement on Wednesday that it suspected Israel-based former Russian oil billionaire Leonid Nevzlin might be involved in the death of Mr. Litvinenko, who died in a London hospital on November 23 from exposure to the highly toxic radioactive substance polonium-210.

Mr. Nevzlin dismissed allegations by Moscow and said he had co-operated with the British authorities investigating the London murder of the dissident Russian ex-spy.  The Russian government has unsuccessfully sought Mr. Nevzlin's and Mr. Berezovsky's extradition on charges of fraud. The Russian authorities have also accused Mr. Nevzlin of involvement in contract killings. Both men dismissed these accusations as politically motivated. Mr. Nevzlin is now believed to be on a visit to the United States. Mr. Berezovsky received political asylum in Great Britain.

In the Voice of America interview, Mr. Berezovsky said that the US government would not have allowed Mr. Nevzlin into the country if Washington gave the slightest credence to Moscow's accusations.
"I know him personally, and these accusations have absolutely no basis in fact," Mr. Berezovsky told VOA. While he was living in Russia, Mr. Berezovsky was an owner and supporter of liberal media.

In the same VOA program, exiled Chechen emissary Akhmed Zakayev revealed that although Alexander Litvinenko had converted to Islam on his deathbed, he had been considering such a move for a long time. Mr. Zakayev said that Mr. Litvinenko grew up in the North Caucasus among Muslims and was always interested in their religion. According to Mr. Zakayev, Mr. Litvineko was ashamed of Russia’s actions in the Chechen war and this also influenced his conversion. Mr. Zakayev said that Mr. Litvinenko wanted to show that not all Russians behave the same way as those responsible for atrocities in Chechnya.

Mr. Zakayev was granted political asylum in Great Britain which refused Moscow's requests for his extradition. The Russian authorities accuse him of foreknowledge of terrorist attacks and other crimes involving hundreds of killings and captures of Russian servicemen during the separatist wars in Chechnya. Mr. Zakayev denies these accusations.

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