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Lyubov Sobol handed fines in two more Prigozhin defamation lawsuits

Source: MBX Media

Moscow’s Simonovsky Court has partially fulfilled two defamation lawsuits filed by Russian oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin against opposition politician Lyubov Sobol, MBX Media reported on Tuesday, May 11, citing the court’s press service.

The hearings on the two claims took place on April 30. The Simonovsky Court ordered Sobol to pay Prigozhin 500,000 rubles ($6,745) in damages for each suit. Prigozhin’s lawsuits each demanded 5 million rubles ($67,450) in compensation from Sobol.

The first claim was filed over statements Lyubov Sobol made during a broadcast on the YouTube channel “Navalny Live” — she called Prigozhin a “criminal from the nineties” and accused him of organizing an assassination attempt on her husband, Sergey Mokhov. She also accused the catering mogul of “delivering rotten meat to Moscow schools.”

In 2019, Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK) published an investigative report stating that Prigozhin owns “Moskovsky Shkolnik” (he denies this) and accused the catering company of spreading dysentery in Moscow kindergartens and schools in December 2018.

Moskovsky Shkolnik sued Navalny, Sobol, and FBK in civil court for 500 million rubles (about $6.5 million at the time) in damages to its business reputation. In October 2019, a court awarded the company roughly 88 million rubles (about $1.2 million by today’s exchange rate). The ruling was so massive that Navalny announced in July 2020 that FBK would be forced to liquidate and reopen as a new legal entity. In August 2020, Evgeny Prigozhin acquired the rights to the 88-million-ruble debt awarded to Moskovsky Shkolnik.

Though the lawsuit was initially filed against jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny as well, Prigozhin’s representatives ended up dropping their claim against him since they couldn’t prove his connection to the YouTube channel “Navalny Live.”

The second lawsuit was filed over an article published by the news site Znak.com, in which Sobol called Prigozhin a “jackass from the nineties, mad with impunity,” who “poisons children in kindergartens to the point of bloody diarrhea and hospitalization.” (The article was deleted, but it’s still available via web archive).

Evgeny Prigozhin has filed multiple defamation lawsuits in Moscow courts against Alexey Navalny and his associates. In March, the Lyublinsky District Court ordered Navalny to pay Prigozhin 500,000 rubles in compensation in one such suit.

In early April, the Simonovsky Court ordered Lyubov Sobol to pay Prigozhin 500,000 rubles in damages over two posts she wrote on Twitter in October 2020. Sharing an article about Prigozhin filing a different defamation lawsuit against herself and Navalny, Sobol wrote, “When you steal billions from the [state] budget, but want to snatch some more money?”

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