Alexey Navalny, the opposition ‘non-system’ politician and erstwhile anti-corruption blogger, today lost a libel claim brought against him by Alisher Usmanov, a Russian billionaire of Uzbek ethnicity.
Usmanov sued Navalny for libel after Navalny claimed that Usmanov had given to Ilya Yeliseyev – a university friend of Russian Prime Minister Medvedev’s – and to the affiliated Sotsgosproekt fund land and a mansion in the village of Znamenskoye as a gift.
The value of the alleged gift is said to be $88 million, and Navalny’s insinuation is that it was gifted by Usmanov as a bribe to Medvedev.
The court ordered Navalny to delete the material on his website concerning the alleged gift, which Usmanov says Navalny has misrepresented, and which was part of a bona fide business deal, as well as allegations that Usmanov has been convicted of rape.
Navalny has signalled that he will not comply with the court’s order. Claiming that the proceedings of the court which decided the case against him were unfair, Navalny has published a defiant statement saying he refuses to comply with the court’s order
Now I am answering a question whether you, Alexey, will implement the court’s order. Of course not. I do not recognize the court’s ruling and what’s more, I do not recognize this as a court trial
This is typical of Navalny. Long ago he hit on the technique of making outrageous corruption allegations against various Russian companies and personalities. Whenever legal action is then taken against him – whether in relation to his own business activities in respect of which he now has two outstanding convictions for fraud, or as in this case by one of the individuals he has accused – he proclaims himself the victim of persecution by those he has accused, and declares that the court decisions made against him are ‘proof’ of the truthfulness of his claims.
The result is that he has achieved a measure of both notoriety and immunity, so that he is both at liberty and politically active despite his fraud convictions.
Whether Russians in general are impressed by this act is open to doubt. However despite Navalny professing ultra nationalist and occasionally frankly racist views his pose as an anti corruption campaigner has won him a measure of attention and a fan club in the West.