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Russian tycoon Abramovich wins court battle in London

LONDON -- Self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky lost his multibillion-dollar legal battle against a fellow Russian oligarch on Friday, with a British judge ruling that Roman Abramovich was the more truthful witness in their clash over vast oil wealth.

The case in London's High Court had sparked broad interest because of its focus on the two oligarchs' personal, as well as business, relationship in the chaotic days of post-Soviet Russia. The weeks of testimony included juicy details about both jet-setters' lifestyles — including yachts, vacations and spending on luxury goods.

Berezovsky, a former Kremlin power broker, had alleged that Abramovich, who he called his protege, had betrayed and intimidated him into selling his stakes in the Russian oil company Sibneft significantly beneath their value.

Abramovich had denied the allegations.

On Friday, Judge Elizabeth Gloster ruled the 66-year-old Berezovsky was not as reliable as a witness as the 45-year-old Abramovich, the billionaire owner of the Chelsea soccer club.

“The bottom line of my analysis of Mr. Berezovsky's credibility is that he would have said almost anything to support his case,” Gloster said in her judgment.

On the contrary, the judge said she found “Abramovich to be a truthful, and on the whole reliable, witness.”

Berezovsky, who appeared Friday in court, alleged blackmail and breach of contract and was seeking more than 3 billion pounds (US$4.8 billion) in damages.

Abramovich did not attend Friday's proceedings.

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