Kremlin-linked businessman Evgeny Prigozhin has filed a defamation lawsuit against journalist Maxim Shevchenko, Dovod chief editor Ilya Kosygin, and Meduza editor-in-chief Ivan Kolpakov.
According to a copy of the lawsuit at Meduza’s disposal, the claim has been forwarded to Moscow’s Savelovsky District Court. The lawsuit was filed over an interview with Shevchenko — who heads the Communist Party (KPRF) faction in the Vladimir Region’s legislative assembly — published by Dovod.
In the interview, Shevchenko commented in particular on a defamation lawsuit filed by Prigozhin, in which he is a co-defendant alongside opposition figures Alexey Navalny, Lyubov Sobol, and others.
In the Dovod article, Shevchenko’s comment on Prigozhin (“He’s a twice-convicted felon, one of the charges is for involving minors in prostitution”) was accompanied by a hyperlink to a Meduza article from June 2016 (you can read the article in English here).
“These publications contain the allegation that the plaintiff involved minors in prostitution and was convicted for these actions,” Prigozhin’s lawsuit states. According to the appeal to the court, such allegations “are clearly defamatory and have an extremely negative effect on the honor, dignity, and business reputation of the plaintiff.”
Prigozhin is demanding 5 million rubles each (about $65,500) from Shevchenko, Kosygin, and Kolpakov as compensation for moral damages. He is also demanding that Meduza and Dovod delete the “disputed” articles within 10 days of the court’s ruling coming into force and publish retractions in their place.
Lawyer Sergey Badamshin from the human rights organization Pravozashchity Otkrytki will defend Ivan Kolpakov in the court proceedings.
In 2016, Evgeny Prigozhin filed a number of lawsuits against the Internet companies Yandex, Google and Mail.ru under Russia’s law on the “right to be forgotten,” demanding that the Internet companies delete search results linking to articles that he believed tarnished his business reputation. Prigozhin later withdrew the claims against Yandex and Mail.ru; a court rejected the lawsuit against Google.