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’s been charged with financial crimes.

Ashot Egiazaryan, 45, says 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 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s former mayor – he said he doesn’t feel safe even in this country.

“It’s possible that an assassination attempt can be mounted against me here,” he said in Washington.

He spoke a few weeks after one of his relatives was fatally shot Dec. 7 in Astrakhan, Russia, an attack he claims is connected to 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 an insider’s view of the world of money, power and politics in Russia, where wealth and connections can sometimes trump property rights and the rule of law.

The case could become a headache for the Obama administration. The United States is counting on Moscow’s support in everything from the fight against Afghan extremists to efforts to derail the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.

If Egiazaryan seeks to remain in the United States, the administration could face a difficult choice: risk angering the Kremlin by sheltering a high-ranking Russian official charged with financial crimes, or force a fugitive to return and face a corruption-plagued legal system.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came into office in 2008 vowing to fight what he called Russia’s “legal nihilism.” But so far, many inside and outside Russia see more rhetoric than reform. The respected watchdog group Transparency International’s latest rankings put Russia 146th out of 180 countries in its corruption index.

For two years, Egiazaryan said, he faced groundless police raids, smears and anonymous death threats as he struggled to hang on to his $2 billion stake in a project to tear down the Moskva, an old Soviet hotel, and revamp it as a luxury establishment.

He says he was forced to hand over his share in the hotel in June 2009 after a campaign of intimidation that included raids by armed police on some of his partners and businesses and threats of criminal prosecution. He said he was the target of anonymous threats, including threats to behead his children.

Last September, shortly after Egiazaryan arrived in the United States, his lawyers sued in Cyprus charging billionaire Russian investor Suleiman Kerimov with leading a hostile takeover of the Moskva hotel project.

The court ordered a freeze on about $6 billion in Kerimov’s assets as well as the assets of several of Egiazaryan’s former partners in the project. They include ex-Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s longtime judo partner.

Within weeks of the suit, Egiazaryan was stripped of his legislative immunity, charged with fraud and put on his country’s wanted list. Several of his Russian properties have been seized.

In coming weeks, the judge in Cyprus is expected to rule on a defense challenge to the asset freeze.

The dispute spilled into cyberspace. An anonymous website appeared detailing a long list of allegations against Egiazaryan. He fought back with two websites of his own, where he has published documents that he said support his allegations that he is the victim of persecution.

Egiazaryan compared himself to others who have run afoul of Russia’s political elites – including Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos Oil chairman who has twice been convicted of financial crimes. Many Russian human rights activists say Khodorkovsky’s prosecution was politically inspired.

But two of Khodorkovsky’s most prominent supporters, rights advocates Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group and Lev Ponomarev of Russia’s For Human Rights, wrote to key U.S. lawmakers Jan. 29, urging them to question the State Department and Department of Homeland Security about Egiazaryan’s continuing presence in the United States..

Alexeyeva said that a parliamentary panel that Egiazaryan helped found on human rights in Chechnya had covered up atrocities during Russia’s second war with Chechen insurgents. Drew Holiner, a lawyer for Egiazaryan, denied the allegations and said the rights advocates were “misled” into writing the letters.

Alexeyeva said Sunday that she’d met with people who spoke on Egiazaryan’s behalf and that she was now uncertain of the facts in her letter.