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, a spokeswoman for the Moscow Arbitration Court said Tuesday.

The lawsuit centers on claims Potanin made in an interview with The Moscow Times last month that Prokhorov reneged on an agreement to sell his stake in the world's biggest nickel producer, Norilsk Nickel, to Potanin and Metalloinvest chief Alisher Usmanov.

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

No sum for potential damages is indicated in the court document and Igor Petrov, a spokesman for Prokhorov's investment vehicle Onexim Group, said Prokhorov was not interested in receiving financial compensation from either Potanin or United Press. Petrov refused to say why the lawsuit had been filed against both Potanin and United Press.

A spokeswoman for the Moscow Arbitration Court said it would take up to five days to decide whether to consider the case or refer it to another court.

She said the court generally deals with companies and since Prokhorov filed the suit as an individual it might be considered by another court.

Anton Komarov, a spokesman for Potanin, said he was consulting with Potanin's lawyers. Komarov said they were ready to consult with lawyers for United Press.