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In Settlement, Prokhorov Clears Moscow Times of Wrongdoing

Mikhail Prokhorov and The Moscow Times have buried the hatchet after a 14-month court battle over a defamation lawsuit involving comments made by the billionaire’s former partner Vladimir Potanin.

Under the terms of the settlement, Prokhorov cleared The Moscow Times of wrongdoing in its decision to publish an interview with Potanin in June 2008 that Prokhorov said had besmirched his reputation. The newspaper agreed not to pursue any further legal action against Prokhorov.

“All my goals were achieved in the initial case against Mr. Potanin,” Prokhorov said in an e-mailed statement. “The case against The Moscow Times was triggered purely by certain technicalities of Russian law. Personally, I have no claims against The Moscow Times whatsoever and believe that its journalists acted professionally.”

Prokhorov filed the suit against Potanin and United Press, the parent company of The Moscow Times, in July 2008 after Potanin claimed in the interview that Prokhorov had reneged on an agreement to sell his stake in Norilsk Nickel to Potanin and billionaire Alisher Usmanov and buy Potanin’s stake in Polyus Gold.

Moscow Times reporter Nadia Popova was later added to the lawsuit.

The Moscow Arbitration Court ruled in favor of Prokhorov in October, ordering Potanin and The Moscow Times to pay a fine of 1,000 rubles each and the newspaper to publish a retraction. The Moscow Times appealed the court’s verdict in December, but it was rejected in January. A cassation appeal was filed in March and was rejected in May. The newspaper requested a court review of the judicial handling of the case in August, appealing to the Supreme Arbitration Court. In the meantime, The Moscow Times published a court-ordered retraction of Potanin’s comment in February.

A spokesman of Interros, Potanin’s investment holding, declined to comment on the settlement.

The Moscow Times filed a petition to withdraw its appeal to the Supreme Arbitration Court on Friday.

“We have consistently maintained our position in the courts that we did nothing wrong, but after repeated appeals, we realized that the newspaper could not affect the course of the case,” Moscow Times publisher Ekaterina Son said. “This settlement with the plaintiff and his recognition that the newspaper did nothing wrong seemed to be the best way to resolve the situation.”

Source: The Moscow Times

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