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Music Critic Found Guilty of Defaming Police

Artemy Troitsky, the country's most prominent music critic, faces two years in jail for crossing into public activism and handing an "anti-prize" to a policeman he named the worst cop of the year. Vadim Nevaryenikh

The country's most prominent music critic faces two years in jail for crossing into public activism and handing an "anti-prize" to a policeman he named the worst cop of the year.

Artemy Troitsky, who was also hit with a fine of 130,000 rubles ($4,600) on Wednesday, told The Moscow Times that he views the case as punishment for his activism but promised not to back down.

The case was opened on a complaint by former traffic policeman Nikolai Khovansky, who was the first to arrive at the site of a fatal road accident involving a LUKoil vice president in February 2010.

Khovansky was also the first to put the blame on the two women killed in the accident, Olga Sidelnikova and Vera Alexandrina, whose Citroen collided with the car of LUKoil vice president Anatoly Barkov on Moscow's Leninsky Prospekt.

The case sparked much outrage, with media and many citizens accusing the police of covering up for Barkov and his driver. City police, nevertheless, ultimately cleared Barkov and his driver.

Troitsky targeted the police officer during a November show by the rock band DDT, naming him among the recipients of a prize for the worst police officers.

Interestingly, Khovansky's daughter attended the show, during which DDT frontman Yury Shevchuk also named the year's best cops.

Khovansky, who has since retired, filed a defamation lawsuit against Troitsky and won the case Wednesday in Moscow's Gagarinsky District Court.

Troitsky also faces a separate criminal case for insult over the same incident, with a hearing scheduled for May 3, Interfax said. The offense is punishable with prison time.

The 55-year-old critic, known for his ties to Russian rock greats, did not attend the Wednesday hearing, saying he was ill, but he promised to appeal.

He said Khovansky was used by "puppeteers" who sought to punish him. "I believe they are people who don't like my public activities," he said by telephone, without elaborating on who might be behind the lawsuit.

"I am not a politician, but I am not the kind of guy who is going to surrender," Troitsky added. "The more they pressure me, the more I will resist."

In addition to the campaign against Barkov, Troitsky participated last year in protests against the partial destruction of the Moscow region's Khimki forest, slated to go in order to make way for a state-backed highway. The protests ended in failure, with the government authorizing the road's construction in December.

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