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Forbes Wants London Court To Dismiss Berezovsky Suit

Forbes magazine said Tuesday it will ask the London High Court to dismiss a libel suit filed against the U.S. business weekly by Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky.

"We think that it's ridiculous that this case should be heard in London," a Forbes representative, who wished to remain anonymous, said from New York. "It's not right that just because a few of our magazines are sold in London, Berezovsky should file his suit there."

The magazine's legal representatives at Biddle & Co. will file a writ Wednesday asking a London judge not to hear the lawsuit Berezovsky filed against Forbes last February.

Berezovsky, a deputy secretary on Russia's Security Council, says a Forbes article published Dec. 30, 1996, and titled "Is He the Godfather of the Kremlin?" damaged his reputation in England, where he claims to have important business connections.

One of the article's most serious allegations implicated Berezovsky in the 1995 murder of Vladislav Listyev, a popular television host and a top executive at ORT television.

It generally is easier to win a libel action under British law than under U.S. law. In Britain, a defendant must prove that an article, even if factual, was not published with the intent to defame a person's reputation.

In a prominent settlement of a suit in Britain last year, Time magazine agreed to pay The Washington Post $270,000 for publishing allegations the paper's former Moscow correspondent, Dusko Doder, accepted money from the KGB.

Forbes says it is willing to fight the lawsuit, but at a different venue.

"We stand by the story 100 percent," the representative said. "It's logical for this case to be heard in America or Russia, or maybe Switzerland."

In a statement issued when he filed the lawsuit, Berezovsky said, "Listyev was my colleague and friend," and called Forbes' story "a hurtful, shameful lie that must be retracted."

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