|Ashot Egiazaryan may seek asylum.|
WASHINGTON — A wealthy Russian lawmaker has fled with his family to the United States, where he says he fears assassination over accusations that some of Russia’s richest and most influential people swindled him in a real estate deal. Back home, he has been charged with financial crimes.
Ashot Egiazaryan said he is considering seeking asylum in the United States. But after suing a Russian billionaire and several former business partners — including a close friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s former mayor — he said he does not feel safe even in this country.
“I do think it’s possible than an assassination attempt can be mounted against me here,’’ he said, flanked by lawyers. One of his relatives was gunned down Dec. 7 in the Russian city of Astrakhan, an attack he said was connected with his suit.
The struggle over the Moskva Hotel, a prime piece of Moscow real estate, is now being waged in a civil court in Cyprus, the London Court of International Arbitration, on the Web, and on Capitol Hill. It provides a rare insider’s view of the often ruthless world of money, power, and politics in Russia, where wealth and connections can sometimes trump property rights and the rule of law.
If Egiazaryan, 45, seeks to remain in the United States, the Obama administration could face a difficult choice: risk angering the Kremlin by sheltering a high-ranking Russian official charged with financial crimes, or forcing a fugitive to return and face a legal system that even Russian officials recognize is riddled with corruption and cronyism.