LONDON, July 9 - RAPSI. Today the High Court in London will begin hearing the lawyers' opening speeches in the high-profile litigation launched by Israeli resident Mikhail Cherney against Oleg Deripaska, owner of the Russian aluminum giant, RUSAL.

Cherney is claiming 20 percent of RUSAL, alleging that he signed an agreement in 2001 on the transfer into a trust management of a block of company shares, the value of which Deripaska was to repay within three to five years.

Deripaska denies having any business relations with Cherney, although he admits that Cherney provided him protection in the early 1990's, which was indispensible for doing business in Russia at the time.

The concept of "protection" has become a household term for UK lawyers and journalists after the recent trial between Berezovsky and Abramovich. Both processes stem from supposed agreements on business cooperation.

Neither Abramovich nor Deripaska admit they had any partnership agreements. While Abramovich said Berezovsky provided him with political protection, Deripaska has acknowledged Cherney's criminal protection for his aluminum business in the 1990's.

The two cases are closely interlinked, which explains in part why the trial between Cherney and Deripaska has been delayed. The Berezovsky-Abramovich trial finished several months ago and the court is due to deliver its verdict shortly.