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The amazing true story of how London became home to the Russian super-rich – told for the first time ever. A dazzling tale of incredible wealth, ferocious disputes, beautiful women, private jets, mega-yachts, the world’s best footballers – and chauffeur-driven Range Rovers with tinted windows.
A group of buccaneering Russian oligarchs made colossal fortunes after the collapse of communism - and many of them came to London to enjoy their new-found wealth. Londongrad tells for the first time the true story of their journeys from Moscow and St Petersburg to mansions in Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Surrey - and takes you into a shimmering world of audacious multi-billion pound deals, outrageous spending and rancorous feuds.
But while London's flashiest restaurants echoed to Russian laughter and Bond Street shop-owners totted up their profits, darker events also played themselves out. The killing of ex-KGB man Alexander Litvinenko in London to the death - in a helicopter crash he all but predicted - of Stephen Curtis, the lawyer to many of Britain's richest Russians, chilled London's Russians and many of those who know them.
This is the story of how Russia's wealth was harvested and brought to London - some of it spent by Roman Abramovich on his beloved Chelsea Football Club, some of it spent by Boris Berezovsky in his battles with Russia's all-powerful Vladimir Putin. Londongrad is a must-read for anyone interested in how vast wealth is created, the luxury it can buy, and the power and intrigue it produces.
When Sandy Mitchell was arrested for his alleged involvement in two bombings in Saudi Arabia in December 2000, he thought it was a case of mistaken identity and that he would soon be released. Instead, he spent nearly three years in jail, where he was repeatedly tortured before being forced to sign a confession and admit his guilt on Saudi television.
Throughout his incarceration the Saudi authorities knew that the attacks had been committed by al-Qaeda militants. Yet they kept Mitchell in jail and refused him access to a lawyer for a year. By this time he had been sentenced to death but he was eventually released before the penalty could be imposed.
Saudi Babylon is the story of a shocking miscarriage of justice. But it also reveals an even more disturbing truth: how the British government, mindful of multi-billion-pound arms sales to Saudi Arabia, virtually abandoned Mitchell by adopting a softly-softly diplomatic approach to the corrupt Saudi royal family.
Based on diaries and records of meetings with ministers and officials, this is a powerful exposé of how the British government acts when one of its citizens is illegally imprisoned and tortured by a regime with which it does business.