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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

image for London newspapers red-faced as masked Russian cops raid  Lebedev bank
Surrounded: Lebedev was apparently counting his gold ingots during the seige

Moscow - (Rioters): A belated trick-or-treat raid by armed Moscow police on Alexander Lebedev's First Moscow Gravy Train Bank HQ has rocked his London newspaper empire.

Cops in 'Halloween-style masks' were reported to have pounced this morning just as the ex-KGB spook was holding an audit of his bullion assets.

The London Evening Standard and The Independent proprietor was later described as being in intense diplomatic (sic) discussions with the raiding party.

A number of media commentators have linked today's raid to fellow oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky's money laundering and embezzlement problems.

The jailed ex-Yukos Oil CEO and his sidekick Platon Lebedev (no relation?) appeared at a Moscow court hearing this morning accused of stealing more than two billion barrels of crude.

The alleged thefts took place between 1998 and 2003 during Russia's spectacular rise to Big Oil supremacy.

A spokesperson for Moscow's Serious & Disorganised Crime Agency refused to speculate whether this morning's bank raids may be extended to Lebedev's London tabloid offices.

Roman Abramovich is 69.

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