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17 Aug, 2022 22:22

Russian billionaire sues Navalny

Opposition activist urges more Western sanctions against Oleg Deripaska in response to defamation claim
Russian billionaire sues Navalny

Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska has sued opposition activist Aleksey Navalny and his associates over an “investigation” posted on YouTube in 2018 that accused the aluminum tycoon of giving bribes to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Tweeting about the lawsuit on Wednesday, Navalny called on the US, EU and UK to impose more sanctions on Deripaska and Lavrov.

The opposition blogger is currently in prison for a series of transgressions, from defrauding a French company and donors to his political campaigns, to contempt of court. He claims to be a victim of political persecution by President Vladimir Putin’s government.

“Putin crook is suing,” Navalny tweeted in Russian, posting a redacted photo of the court summons. He said Deripaska was demanding the removal of photos and videos depicting him with Lavrov in Japan, among other things.

Deripaska’s lawyer Alexei Melnikov told the outlet RBK that his client has indeed filed a defamation lawsuit.

“Based on the published photograph of the plaintiff with Foreign Minister Lavrov, completely unacceptable allegations were made about various crimes, in particular, with arguments about corruption, bribery and lobbying,” Melnikov said.

In addition to Navalny, the lawsuit names his associates Georgy Alburov and Maria Pevchikh, as well as The Insider, the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, and Associated Newspapers Limited, the parent company of the Daily Mail.

Pevchikh told RBK that Deripaska demanded not only the deletion of their “investigative report,” but also a video rebuttal, saying he would demand 50 million rubles (around $825,000) a day in damages until this is done. She added she did not intend to comply with his demands.

Navalny seemed to suggest that the verdict before the Zelenograd court will be a foregone conclusion, tweeting, “I have no doubts about the ability of Putin's oligarch to convince Putin's court.” He also called on the US, EU and the UK to “introduce really effective sanctions against these thieves and accomplices of war” and make sure they can’t “bribe politicians and journalists” in the West to “launder their image.”

Deripaska has sued Navalny for defamation before, winning a judgment in November 2021. Earlier this week, the aluminum magnate sued another Russian billionaire, banker Oleg Tinkov, demanding  two billion rubles ($35 million) in compensation over an Instagram post in which Tinkov called him “an oligarch and a thief.”