Russian site smears opposition leader's 'sex vacation'

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Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov on Wednesday vowed to punish a news site for calling his girlfriend a prostitute in what he said was a new smear article done for Vladimir Putin.

"I have gotten used to the slander and lies that comes from serving Putin," he wrote on his blog Wednesday. "But now it was not I, but my girlfriend, who has been insulted."

The website Life News, which previously posted recordings of phone calls between Nemtsov and other opposition activists, published a detailed account of his vacation in a luxury hotel in the Emirates.

"Nemtsov relaxed in Dubai with a call-girl. He prepared for the new opposition rally on an elite beach in the Emirates," the website said, providing hidden camera footage of the politician hugging a red-headed woman on the balcony of an upscale hotel.

The website alleged that Nemtsov paid for his vacation with money sent by his supporters to fund corruption investigations, and that the woman with him, Anastasia Ogneva, worked as an escort.

"The Persian gulf's hot sands warmed (his) sexual activity. But political activity did not go cold," the website said.

Nemtsov, the leader of unregistered party PARNAS, is part of Russia's fragmented opposition that is organising the third mass rally against Vladimir Putin's regime next weekend.

Prime Minister Putin is in the middle of his presidential campaign to secure his third term in the Kremlin at the March 4 polls.

"I'd like to remind you that LifeNews belongs to... Putin's friend and partner in crime Yury Kovalchuk," Nemtsov wrote in his Livejournal blog, and branded the editor of the website Ashot Gabrelyanov a 'scumbag' for calling his girlfriend a prostitute.

"Before I would invite this scumbag to a duel. But that's not possible now. Putin and his rascals can't wait for such a reaction," he wrote, instead promising to fight the editor in court.

Gabrelyanov responded on his blog that he has as much right to publish such stories as the Italian media, which "filmed Silvio Berlusconi at a villa with prostitutes."

His website Life News frequently publishes sensationalist stories and breaking news with police video footage, and prides itself on using questionable ethics.

Its owner Yury Kovalchuk, a banker and media mogul who grew a financial empire over the period of Putin's presidency, is widely reported to be a friend of Putin's from the early 1990s.


© 2012 AFP

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