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Nemtsov Fined in Luzhkov Libel Suit

Luzhkov has never lost a libel suit in Moscow. Nemtsov said the mayor set a ?€?noxious example?€? for city officials. Igor Tabakov

Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District Court on Monday ordered former deputy prime minister and liberal politician Boris Nemtsov pay 500,000 rubles ($17,100) to Mayor Yury Luzhkov for libel.

Luzhkov sought 10 times more from Nemtsov and another 5 million rubles from Kommersant for a September article in which Nemtsov called Luzhkov a “thief” and a “corrupt official.” Luzhkov also accused Nemtsov of defamation for his criticism in a brochure published earlier this year.

The court also ordered Kommersant to pay Luzhkov 500,000 rubles for publishing an interview with Nemtsov in which some of the allegations from the brochure were repeated.

Luzhkov is famous for having never lost a libel suit in Moscow, and he has filed dozens during his 18-year tenure.

But Nemtsov told The Moscow Times that he saw the court decision as a small victory because he was ordered to remove just one paragraph from his brochure, “Luzhkov. Results.”

He said the paragraph says “corruption exists at all levels of city society” and that both Luzhkov and his wife, Inteko chief Yelena Baturina, are a “noxious example” for city bureaucrats. The court found those statements libelous.

“All other statements concerning corruption in Moscow and bribery in the police were left. The court has made a strange but fair decision,” Nemtsov said, adding that he would appeal the decision and continue to distribute a corrected copy of the brochure.

Earlier this year, Luzhkov won a similar case against The New York Times, which published an article in October 2008 critically describing Luzhkov’s political actions. In the article, “Kremlin Rules — Moscow’s Mayor Supports Russia’s New Nationalism,” the paper said Luzhkov supported separatists in Moldova and “nurtured separatist groups in Crimea.”

Ironically, the Russian translation of that article was published by the Inosmi.ru site, owned by state news agency RIA-Novosti. A Moscow court ruled in Luzhkov’s favor. He did not ask for compensation but demanded that the newspaper and Inosmi run a correction.

Two years ago, Luzhkov won a scandalous libel case against opposition leader and writer Eduard Limonov, who said all “Moscow courts are controlled by Luzhkov.” He was ordered to pay 500,000 rubles to Luzhkov.

Meanwhile, Baturina has filed a lawsuit against the Sunday Times newspaper in the High Court of London, Interfax reported Monday.

In September, the London paper published a story saying she purchased a posh mansion there, a claim she has repeatedly denied. In early October, the Sunday Times printed a clarification, saying its information was incorrect.

Baturina wants a “full and complete denial,” Inteko spokesman Gennady Terebkov said.

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