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BP says Russian lawsuit "absurd," to reopen office soon

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - BP said on Friday that a lawsuit that led to Russian bailiffs raiding its Moscow office this week was "absurd" and that it expected to be able to resume normal work at the office on Monday.

On Wednesday bailiffs searched the Moscow office in pursuit of a legal action brought against the British oil major by minority shareholders in its Russian joint venture TNK-BP.

The raid highlighted the problems BP faces in Russia since it fell out with its TNK partners earlier this year over its proposed Arctic exploration alliance with state-owned oil firm Rosneft.

A group of rich minority shareholders in TNK-BP have sued BP over the failed alliance with Rosneft in a Russian regional court, which then ruled that BP should hand over documents connected to the collapsed deal with Rosneft.

"BP believes the court order is unfounded, contains outrageous requirements and was made to support an absurd lawsuit," a BP spokesman told Reuters.

"No documents have been removed from our offices and we expect to resume normal working in our Moscow offices by Monday," he added.

The spokesman also said that BP intends to return to court to challenge the order for the search.

BP has had a bumpy time in Russia in recent years after political clashes between Moscow and London, including over the 2006 murder in London of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to visit Moscow in September, the first trip to Russia by a British prime minister since the killing.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Greg Mahlich)