Russia has asked Britain to extradite Yevgeny Chichvarkin, a flamboyant tycoon believed to have fled to London, raising the prospect of new diplomatic tension between the two countries.
AFP - Russia on Wednesday asked Britain to extradite a flamboyant tycoon believed to have fled to London, raising the prospect of a new diplomatic row between the two countries.
Russia has charged Yevgeny Chichvarkin -- the co-founder of the country's leading phone retailer known for his mullet hairdo and outrageous dressing -- with kidnapping and extortion.
"Today the Russian general prosecutors have forwarded to the British authorities a request for the extradition of Y. Chichvarkin, whose place of residence has been established as London," spokeswoman Marina Gridneva told AFP.
The British government has repeatedly refused to extradite wanted Russians including businessman Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev, infuriating Moscow.
In London, the British Home Office declined to comment, with a spokesman saying only that it was public knowledge that the tycoon was in Britain.
Gridneva said that the British authorities had been asked to arrest Chichvarkin "and extradite him to Russia in order to bring him to justice".
Chichvarkin, who was the co-founder of the country's leading mobile phone founder Yevroset, stepped down from his post at the company to promote a new Kremlin-backed liberal party.
But he subsequently left for Britain fearing for his freedom. Russia has already asked Interpol to put Chichvarkin on its wanted list.
Chichvarkin, who founded Yevroset in 1997, had professed support for the governing United Russia party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in recent years.
Hardly ever seen in a suit, he is known for an unconventional dress sense that included outrageously striped jumpers, colourful scarves, ankle-high white boots as well as the trademark mullet hairstyle.
Russia has stepped up legal action against businessmen deemed to have violated the law following the 2003 arrest of former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkosvky, who was sentenced to eight years for fraud and tax evasion.
A number of top Russian businessmen, including the anti-Kremlin Berezovsky, former head of Russneft oil company Mikhail Gutseriyev and Yukos executives, have in the past fled to London.
But above all, relations between Russia and Britain have been strained by Moscow's refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, a former KGB agent accused of murdering Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
Lugovoi now sits in the lower house of the Russian parliament and makes frequent media appearances.
Russian-British ties were also hit when a secret police crackdown forced the British Council cultural organisation in January 2008 to shut down all but one of its Russian offices.
President Dmitry Medvedev has said he is seeing a thaw in London-Moscow relations but both sides have insisted the controversial cases are all being handled in line with national law.
Date created : 2009-06-17