Russian tycoon wins lawsuit over 'Putin links'

2nd February 2011, Comments 0 comments

A secretive Russian businessman on Wednesday won a lawsuit against two opposition leaders who claimed that the tycoon made his billions thanks to close ties to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Last September Gennady Timchenko filed a suit against Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov for claiming that he and other top business figures owed their multi-billion-dollar fortunes to a friendship with Putin.

Timchenko is the co-founder of Switzerland-based oil trader Gunvor.

The report titled "Putin. The Results" claimed that the likes of Timchenko were simply nominal owners of their companies and the Russian premier was their true beneficiary.

On Wednesday, a court district in Moscow ruled that Nemtsov and Milov should each pay Timchenko 100,000 rubles ($3,400) in moral damages and retract two of the three phrases contested by Timchenko, Yevgenia Pazukhina, spokeswoman for Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky court, told AFP.

Nemtsov said he would appeal the ruling which once again proved that Russia had no independent courts.

"The court as an institution has been eliminated by Putin," said Nemtsov.

"This is absurd. We have to retract two statements: that Timchenko is Putin's friend and that Timchenko is a billionaire," he told AFP, adding that he and Milov had submitted to the court the businessman's tax declarations.

Nemtsov added he was now preparing a new report entitled "Putin. Corruption."

In 2008, Timchenko published an open letter acknowledging he knew Putin but said reports of his ties to the Russian leader were "greatly overblown."

Timchenko said it was true that he and three other businessmen acted as sponsors for a judo club where Putin became honorary president.

© 2011 AFP

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