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Russian court rejects Navalny’s motions against billionaire Usmanov’s lawsuit

May 30, 2017, 15:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, May 30. /TASS/. Moscow’s Lyublinsky court on Tuesday refused to satisfy or consider all 16 motions of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation on a slander lawsuit filed by Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov, a TASS correspondent said.

Navalny and his lawyers asked to question Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov as witnesses. The Anti-Corruption Foundation claims that they may be tied to Usmanov’s alleged corruption schemes.

The opposition activist also asked to question former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray and former Russian Deputy Energy Minister Vladimir Milov as witnesses of the plaintiff’s alleged illegal activity. The court refused to consider these motions saying they were not timely.

Navalny asked the court to attach to the case an interview of late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky who spoke about Usmanov’s business activity. The defendant also requested documents from Russia’s Federal Service for State Registration (Rosreestr) and tax services to prove the claims of corruption and tax evasion. The businessman’s lawyers argued that they had already attached many these documents to the case.

After the court refused to consider the motions, Navalny and the Anti-Corruption Foundation challenged Judge Marina Vasina. "We see a direct violation of the law, uncovered bias of the judge on leading the process," Navalny said.

Slander lawsuit

Usmanov took Navalny to court after the activist’s Anti-Corruption Foundation claimed on its website in early March that Medvedev’s university mate Ilya Yeliseyev and the affiliated Sotsgosproekt fund received land and a mansion in the village of Znamenskoye on the prestigious Rublyovskoye Highway from Usmanov as a gift. The property’s estimated value is 5 billion rubles ($88.4 mln).

Usmanov insisted Navalny acknowledge that claims were a misrepresentation but did not seek any financial compensation. According to Bloomberg, Usmanov is Russia’s fifth wealthiest businessman. The agency estimates his assets at $14 billion. The businessman is the largest stakeholder of the USM Holdings (48%), which, in turn, controls Russia’s largest producer of iron products Metalloinvest, as well as the Mobile operator Megafon and the Internet company Also, he owns the publishing house Kommersant and has a 30% stake in Britain’s Arsenal football club. He is an active investor in foreign high-tech assets.

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