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Blogger Navalny Must Pay Businessman Stepanov 100,000 Roubles, Court Rules

17 October 2011 

Source: Open Information Agency 

Blogger Aleksei Navalny in court during a hearing 
in the defamation suit brought by Vladlen Stepanov 

© Photo Georgy Alburov (@alburov)

Today Moscow’s Liublino district court ruled that blogger and civic activist Aleksei Navalny should pay businessman Vladlen Stepanov 100,000 roubles in damages, and also that Navalny should publish a refutation of a number of statements he had made in a video blog, and include the refutation in the original posting in his Livejournal blog. 

Ramil Akhmetgaliev, a lawyer with the Agora Human Rights Association, informed Open Information Agency of this decision from the courtroom. 

“From the point of view of the law, this ruling is abominable,” says Pavel Chikov, legal expert and chair of Agora Human Rights Association. “And from the point of view of civic protest, it’s even better like that for the scoundrels and thieves. Now Navalny has suffered from the regime, and not just from anybody, but from a petty bureaucrat on the Magnitsky list.” 

“In our view, the judge today took a precedent-setting decision that limits freedom of the Internet,” said the lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliev, one of Aleksei Navalny’s legal representatives. “In particular, this concerns the users of Livejournal. Posting a link to the video was ruled by the court to be distributing the video itself. In other words, any Internet user who does not copy a text or video, but simply indicates the source of information, from now on is considered to be someone who disseminates this material. Without doubt we shall lodge an appeal against this decision since, and I stress, it not only concerns Navalny himself, but it also touches on the high-profile case of Magnitsky, and concerns the freedom of the Internet as a whole. We shall receive a copy of the decision in full in five days’ time, and we shall see what arguments have been used by the judge.