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Some 20 Russians hide from justice in Britain - ambassador


MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti) - Some 20 Russian nationals whose extradition is sought by Moscow are hiding from justice in Britain, the Russian ambassador to London said on Tuesday.

Russia and Britain have been at loggerheads over London's refusal to extradite fugitive ex-oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Chechen emissary Akhmed Zakayev. The latter has been accused by Moscow of terrorist activities.

"Unfortunately, Britain turned into some kind of a 'wildlife sanctuary,' where people can easily hide from justice, although they had committed serious crimes and are wanted by [Russian] justice authorities," Yury Fedotov said on Vesti TV news channel.

He said Russia regularly sends extradition requests to London, but British courts refuse to consider them, adding that right now some 20 Russians are hiding from justice in the country.

Relations between Britain and Russia were strained by the diplomatic fallout following the 2006 murder of former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko in London and Moscow's refusal to extradite the British police's main suspect in the case.

London responded by drastically cutting diplomatic and other contacts with Moscow, which took tit-for-tat measures. Ties deteriorated further after the closure of British Council offices in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg early last year. Russian authorities cited tax and status violations, but London said the closures were political.

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