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Russian billionaire sues Navalny

Opposition activist calls for more Western sanctions against Oleg Deripaska in response to libel suit

Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska has sued opposition activist Aleksey Navalny and his associates over a “investigation” posted on YouTube in 2018 which accused the aluminum tycoon of paying bribes to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Tweeting about the lawsuit on Wednesday, Navalny called on the US, EU and UK to impose more sanctions on Deripaska and Lavrov.

The opposition blogger is currently in prison for a range of transgressions, from scamming a French company and donors to his political campaigns, to contempt of court. He claims to be the victim of political persecution by the government of President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin’s crook sues” Navalny tweeted in Russian, posting a redacted photo of the court summons. He said Deripaska demanded the deletion of photos and videos showing him with Lavrov in Japan, among other things.

Deripaska’s lawyer, Alexei Melnikov, told news outlet RBK that his client had indeed filed a defamation suit.

“Based on the published photo of the complainant with Foreign Minister Lavrov, completely unacceptable allegations were made about various crimes, in particular, with arguments about corruption, bribery and lobbying “, said Melnikov.

Besides Navalny, the lawsuit names his associates Georgy Alburov and Maria Pevchikh, as well as The Insider, the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy and Associated Newspapers Limited, the parent company of the Daily Mail.

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Pevchikh told RBK that Deripaska not only demanded the removal of their “investigation report” but also a video rebuttal, saying he would demand 50 million rubles (about $825,000) a day in damages until it’s done. She added that she had no intention of complying with his demands.

Navalny seemed to suggest that the verdict in the Zelenograd court would be a foregone conclusion, tweeting, “I have no doubts about Putin’s oligarch’s ability to convince Putin’s court.” He also has called on the US, EU and UK for “introduce truly effective sanctions against these thieves and accomplices of war” and make sure they can’t “bribing politicians and journalists” in the West for “whitewash their image”.

Deripaska has previously sued Navalny for defamation, winning judgment in November 2021. Earlier this week, the aluminum tycoon sued another Russian billionaire, banker Oleg Tinkov, demanding two billion rubles ($35 million) in compensation for an Instagram post in which Tinkov called him out. “an oligarch and a thief.”


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