Matviyenko's Son Threatens Suit

The son of St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko is threatening to sue a British newspaper that wrote he insisted on staying at Nottingham Castle -- of Robin Hood fame -- in lieu of a hotel in the city.

The story, which appeared Tuesday in the Nottingham Evening Post, said banker Sergei Matviyenko was planning to attend a martial arts competition and had rejected a four-star hotel in favor of staying at the castle.

The report, which claimed that he would be arriving with a 40-person entourage, quoted Matviyenko as saying: "I was looking forward to learning more about Robin Hood while staying at this historic place."

The story was picked up by British tabloid The Sun and given the headline: "Russian Can't Rent Robin's 'Hood.'"

But a spokesman for VTB-Development, where Matviyenko is general director, said Friday that Matviyenko was not planning to attend the martial arts competition and had not asked to book the castle.

"Sergei is planning to sue the Nottingham Evening Post for slander and undermining his business reputation," spokesman Ivan Balyuk said in an e-mail.

A Nottingham Evening Post employee said the newspaper was unaware of any planned lawsuits and said there would be no official comment. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Martial arts promoter Tony McDonagh said he had been asked to book rooms for Matviyenko and had called the castle, among other venues. "I contacted a number of places on his behalf," he said. "The castle was one place. It was basically my idea."

Matviyenko did not have a 40-person entourage, McDonagh said. The Sept. 27 competition involves some 40 Russians, including athletes, but Matviyenko's request was for "up to eight more people," he said.

McDonagh said he had been asked to book the rooms by M1 Global, a martial arts events promoter. Matviyenko is vice president of the martial arts league Mix Fight M1.

Vadim Finkelshtein, the president of the Mix Fight M1 league, derided the hubbub as "completely stupid." "We didn't ask for anything, no palace. They have made Sergei into a monster," he said, adding that he would attend the competition and stay in a three-star hotel. He said Matviyenko would not go and had never planned to go.

Nottingham Castle supervisor Ynys Crowston-Boaler said the castle, which is now a museum, was not fit for Matviyenko or any other overnight guests because it has "no ensuites or plumbing."

"He wouldn't want to toddle off to the public toilets in the middle of the night," Crowston-Boaler said.