Moscow court dismisses suit against Putin

15th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Moscow court has thrown out an unprecedented defamation of character lawsuit filed against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin by a leading group of Russian liberals, news reports said Tuesday.

Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Milov and Vladimir Ryzhkov filed the suit after Putin used a television appearance in December to accuse the trio of making vast illegal gains in the mayhem of Russia's early post-Soviet years.

A Moscow court's initial decision to hear the case stunned many observers.

Monday's hearing came one-and-a-half months after another Moscow court extended the jail sentence of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a tycoon who bitterly fought with Putin and who argues that all charges against him are politically based.

The judge in Monday's hearing did not explain why the case was being dismissed, the Interfax news agency reported, with the court's reasoning expected to be delivered later this week.

During the December 16 televised chat with Russians, Putin personally selected a question asking "What do Nemtsov, Ryzhkov, Milov and the others really want?"

Putin then answered: "Once, in the 1990s, they together with (Boris) Berezovsky and others who are in confinement -- ones who we recalled today -- stole billions."

Earlier, Putin had used the same live television appearance to declare in reference to Khodorkovsky that a "thief must be in prison".

Nemtsov, who served as a deputy prime minister under former president Boris Yeltsin, vowed Monday to appeal the court's decision, the website reported.

"We will take it to the European Court of Human Rights," said Nemtsov, who has not ruled out running for president in 2012.

"We might file appeals with the courts of all the European nations that aired Putin's appearance," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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