The Court of Moscow’s Savelovsky district on Wednesday rejected a libel suit by former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov against LDPR partly leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The same day Luzhkov lost another defamation suit, now against Life News publication. The verdicts coincided with Luzhkov’s return to Russia from lengthy stay abroad and with his statements that he was ready to answer prosecutors’ questions concerning ongoing probe into troubled Bank of Moscow.
Luzhkov filed a lawsuit against Zhirinovsky for his allegations of rampant corruption in the office of the mayor made on 20 April 2010 during the State Duma session when prime minister Vladimir Putin delivered his annual report. Zhirinovsky said that Luzhkov’s office was a “Moscow mob”, and that he sold most lucrative chunks of municipal property to foreigners, “preparing his retreat”, and puts pressure on the judges. Zhirinovsky also said that only the companies patronized by the mayor could win municipal contracts. The LDPR leader handed a folder with allegedly incriminating documents to Putin. The former mayor demanded that Zhirinovsky paid 3 million roubles ($100,000) and apologised for his allegations.
Zhirinovsky said at the trial that he would not renounce his accusations. He said that during Luzhkov’s term as the mayor the problems accumulated in Moscow. The year was not enough for Sergei Sobyanin, new Moscow mayor, to fix them. Aleksei Melnikov, the former mayor’s representative, said that the politicians should be criticized but the assessment of their action should be objective and sensible. He added that Zhirinovsky’s statements were “beyond the pale” and tarnished the reputation of Luzhkov.
Judge Tatyana Adamova ruled in favour of Zhirinovsky. Earlier the same court upheld Luzhkov’s suit against Zhirinovsky and ordered him to pay 500,000 roubles ($16,000), but the Supreme Court overturned the verdict.
The other case was heard in Moscow City Court. Moscow’s former mayor was seeking compensation from Life News on-line publication for the article claiming Luzhkov had extorted $750 million bribe from president of Bank of Moscow Andrei Borodin. On 3 August 2011 Savelovsky Court judge Tatyana Adamova ruled that the article contained not facts, but the assumptions and dismissed the libel court. On Wednesday Moscow City Court upheld this verdict.
Both trials took place the day Luzhkov arrived in Moscow after a long stay abroad. The interior ministry investigative department summoned Luzhkov for questioning in a corruption inquiry regarding the Bank of Moscow. The investigators launched an inquiry into a deal under which the bank lent 13 billion roubles ($413 million) to murky real estate firm, Prime Estate. The ministry said that Luzhkov would be put on the international wanted list if he did not come to questioning.
On 28 September 2010 president Dmitry Medvedev dismissed Luzhkov over “loss of trust” in him. A year later Sergei Naryshkin said that Luzhkov had been sacked for “over-the-top” corruption and poor city management. The former mayor has filed a lawsuit against Naryshkin and seeks 1 million roubles ($33,000) as compensation. He said that the authorities pushed at him by summoning him in Moscow. Luzhkov will be questioned on 15 November.
Until recently Luzhkov had reputation of a person who never loses lawsuits. The most peculiar case he won was a lawsuit against marginal politician and controversial writer Eduard Limonov. Luzhkov sued him for the statements claiming Luzhkov “controlled” courts.