A controversial Russian banker has been granted political asylum in Britain in a move which is likely to increase tension between London and Moscow.
Andrei Borodin, who formerly headed the powerful Bank of Moscow, said that British authorities had granted him political asylum after determining that embezzlement charges against him in Russia are politically motivated. Mr Borodin joins a long list of Russians residing in the British capital who are wanted by Moscow.
Mr Borodin ran the Bank of Moscow for nearly 16 years until 2011. The bank was known to be close to the city’s former mayor, Yury Luzhkov. Mr Luzhkov and his billionaire wife, Yelena Baturina, have been implicated in a range of corruption scandals by those who said the lucrative construction contracts she won were a result of her husband’s position. She also resides in London. The couple have always denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Luzhkov was dismissed in 2010 after a run-in with Dmitry Medvedev, then the President and now the Prime Minister. Mr Borodin fled to London in 2011.
Natalia Timakova, Mr Medvedev’s press secretary, said that the allegations against Mr Borodin are “purely criminal” and said Britain had fallen for a fake sob story. “Once you announce political persecution as loudly as possible you are guaranteed to get political asylum. We can only regret that this simple ruse worked again in the United Kingdom.”