Here we go again: Navalny is being sued for defamation once more, this time by the official who wanted to beat him up
Viktor Zolotov, the head of Russia’s National Guard, has filed a defamation lawsuit against anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, seeking a cool 1 million rubles (about $15,000). According to Shota Gorgadze, the lawyer representing Zolotov, the lawsuit relates in part to Navalny’s corruption allegations against the National Guard’s leadership involving property holdings. Zolotov says he will donate the money to an orphanage.
Alexey Navalny has been investigated and prosecuted repeatedly for supposedly defaming powerful Russian state officials. Most recently, in October, police interrogated him over two-year-old charges brought by Interior Ministry investigator Pavel Karpov, who accuses Navalny of sharing hyperlinks to the documentary film “Russian Untouchables,” which ties Karpov to the torture and murder of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergey Magnitsky.
In June 2018, Navalny was fined a symbolic 1 ruble for defaming Mikhail Prokhorov, after claiming that the billionaire bribed then Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin by paying three times the market value for his Italian villa. Navalny has previously lost similar defamation lawsuits brought by the billionaires Oleg Deripaska and Alisher Usmanov.
A day before Zolotov’s attorney announced the lawsuit, the magazine RBC reported that Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service launched an investigation into food purchases at inflated prices by the National Guard. The Russian Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office is also investigating the suspicious procurement deal, which Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation flagged in an investigative report in August 2018. Navalny’s group says the National Guard’s sole food-products supplier belongs to someone with close ties to Zolotov, who famously challenged Navalny to a fistfight afterwards. Navalny counter-offered to debate him on live television, but Zolotov refused.