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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

FCA Files Complaint Over Lawsuit

The Foreign Correspondents Association on Tuesday protested a Russian parliament order to take an Italian journalist who published a controversial interview with Mikhail Poltoranin to court.

Marco Politi, head of the Foreign Correspondents Association, said that he had sent letters to Ruslan Khasbulatov, the parliament speaker, and Vitaly Churkin, deputy foreign minister in charge of the ministry's press center, protesting the decision to take legal action against the Italian daily L'Unita and Sergio Sergi, its Moscow correspondent.

"I sent a letter to Khasbulatov saying that journalists are only doing their job when they tell a story", Politi said Tuesday. "They must not be brought into the midst of a political struggle".

Sergi's interview with the former deputy prime minister in charge of press and information, published at the beginning of the year in Italy, created a sensation here when it was translated and reprinted Jan. 14 in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the parliament's newspaper. In the interview, Poltoranin, a close aide to President Boris Yeltsin, alleged that Khasbulatov - with whom he has a bitter and ongoing feud - had conspired to overthrow the government last fall.

The interview caused a scandal for Poltoranin, who now heads the government's new Federal Information Center. Poltoranin's remarks about Khasbulatov were so sharp that Rossiiskaya Gazeta accused him of giving the interview while drunk, and the public prosecutor's office launched an investigation to determine the source of the coup plot rumor.

When parliament tried to sue him for the remarks, Poltoranin said that L'Unita had distorted his remarks.

On Feb. 18, parliament adopted a resolution to press charges against L'Unita.

Sergi, who has worked in Moscow for more than four years, said Tuesday that he stands by his material and has five tapes to document the interview.