Abramovich accused of 'smear' attack
Roman Abramovich was yesterday accused of "trying to smear" his former business partner Boris Berezovsky during an extraordinary day of courtroom evidence in which the Chelsea Football Club owner claimed he had "never aspired to be a public figure".
Mr Abramovich (45) is being sued for billions by Mr Berezovsky (65) who alleges he "betrayed" and "intimidated" him into selling shares in a Russian oil company for a fraction of their worth.
Yesterday at London's Commercial Court, the Chelsea owner faced questions suggesting he had sought to falsely portray Mr Berezovsky as little more than a gangster who had provided him with protection from criminal gangs -- far from the legitimate business partner Mr Berezovsky claims he was.
As Mr Berezovsky's lawyers drew attention to their client's role in securing the release from Chechen forces of two British hostages, it also emerged that Mr Abramovich had paid their ransom.
"You will seek to smear Mr Berezovsky, if that is what you think is necessary, in order to try and meet his claim in this action," Mr Berezovsky's barrister Laurence Rabinowitz said.
Mr Abramovich's witness statement says he required krysha, the Russian term for "roof", meaning protection, be it either from violent criminality or political interference. Mr Berezovsky, an influential politician, could provide both, he said.
Mr Abramovich also alleged that Mr Berezovsky had links to Chechen gangs and terrorists.
Mr Rabinowitz described the claim as "an utterly unjustified smear". The case continues. (© Independent News Service)