Court Tells MT to Run Retraction

The Moscow Times is running in Friday's issue a court-ordered retraction of comments made by billionaire Vladimir Potanin, even as it awaits the outcome of an appeal in the defamation lawsuit.

The Moscow Arbitration Court on Tuesday ordered The Moscow Times to run the retraction within three days, after ruling earlier that Potanin and the newspaper had besmirched the reputation of Potanin's former business partner Mikhail Prokhorov in an interview published last year.

Prokhorov sued Potanin and United Press, the publisher of The Moscow Times, in July over an interview in which Potanin told The Moscow Times that Prokhorov had "promised" to sell a stake in Norilsk Nickel to him and billionaire Alisher Usmanov and to buy his stake in Polyus Gold, "but he avoided doing this."

The Moscow Times reporter Nadia Popova, who took the interview with Potanin, was later added to the lawsuit.

The court-ordered retraction, which appears on the bottom of the front page, where the Potanin interview was published, says the court had found that the disputed quote "was not true and was tainting M.D. Prokhorov's business reputation."

The Moscow Arbitration Court has twice sided with Prokhorov in the case, ordering The Moscow Times to run the retraction and pay a fine of 1,000 rubles. Potanin was also fined 1,000 rubles.

The Moscow Times is appealing the case to the Supreme Arbitration Court.

"If the court finds in our favor, we will publish a retraction of the retraction," said The Moscow Times publisher Ekaterina Son.

Potanin's lawyers have argued that the disputed phrase in the interview was in fact true because Prokhorov had proceeded to sell his stake in Norilsk Nickel to Oleg Deripaska's RusAl in April in violation of an agreement signed in February 2008.