Prokhorov Sues Potanin Over Article

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has filed a defamation suit against former business partner Vladimir Potanin and The Moscow Times to defend his business reputation, the Moscow Arbitration Court's web site said Tuesday.

The lawsuit centers on a claim by Potanin in an interview with The Moscow Times published last month that Prokhorov reneged on a promise to sell his Norilsk Nickel stake to Potanin and fellow metals billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

In comments to The Moscow Times during last month's St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Prokhorov said he had not broken any agreements made with Potanin during their protracted business divorce, which concluded in May.

Potanin's co-defendant in the case is United Press, a subsidiary of The Moscow Times' parent company, Independent Media Sanoma Magazines.

A spokeswoman for the Moscow Arbitration Court Maria Raben said Tuesday it would take up to five days to decide whether to consider the case. "It will depend on whether the plaintiff has fulfilled all the necessary procedures and whether the case is in the competence of the court," Raben said.

Prokhorov's Onexim Group did not comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.

A spokesman for Potanin's Interros holding said Tuesday that Potanin had not received any documents from the court yet, and declined to comment further.