London Exile Berezovsky in Plot to Overthrow President Putin; 'We Need to Use Force to Change This Regime. There Can Be No Change without Force' Boris Berezovsky

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BRITAIN was plunged into a diplomatic crisis today as a Russian billionaire based in London said he was using the capital to plot a coup against President Vladimir Putin.

The inflammatory comments of Boris Berezovsky in a newspaper interview appeared to be calculated to antagonise the Kremlin and spark a row.

He said: "We need to use force to change this regime. It isn't possible to change this regime through democratic means. There can be no change without force." Russia has already demanded that Britain strip the tycoon, a hated critic of the Putin leadership, of his refugee status.

The new row comes after tensions over the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko with polonium, allegedly by agents linked to Russia.

Asked if he was effectively fomenting a revolution, Mr Beresovsky said: "You are absolutely correct." Mr Berezovsky said he could not provide details to back up his claims because the information was too sensitive.

The Foreign Office refused to comment this morning. An official said the comments, made to the Guardian, were being "checked out".

But the Kremlin swiftly denounced his comments as a criminal offence which it believed should undermine his refugee status in the UK. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin's chief spokesman, said: "In accordance with our legislation [his remarks are] being treated as a crime. It will cause some questions from the British authorities to Mr Berezovsky. We want to believe that official London will never grant asylum to someone who wants to use force to change the regime in Russia. …