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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cafe Balks at Bad Press

The director of a restaurant implicated in several recent cases of violence threatened Friday to sue newspapers whose coverage, he charged, has affected the restaurant's business and caused "moral damage" to its staff.

"After the news reports the number of customers dropped noticeably", Ivan Gritsenko, director of the restaurant, said in a telephone interview. "I haven't counted the losses yet, but they are big".

The restaurant's problems stem from a series of shootings, stabbings and thefts that have plagued the restaurant this year, according to police records. But problems for the restaurant have taken a turn for the worse over the last two weeks following news coverage of two shoot-outs outside the premises, killing at least one man and seriously wounding another.

Gritsenko claims that the coverage has been slanted, giving readers the impression that the restaurant is a hangout for thieves and murderers.

The newspaper Kuranty reported last week that "Russians and Chechens were fighting for the restaurant".

Many Muscovites associate Chechens with organized crime.

"I will sue all the newspapers which have mentioned the restaurant", Gritsenko said. "They have published lies".

On Friday, Kuranty compounded Gritsenko's problems by publishing an article about his personal appeal to not name the restaurant in its coverage. In the report the newspaper identified the restaurant by name.

Kuranty quoted Gritsenko as saying that business was so bad now that, "On a good day, I get five to six people. Even the famous Taganka mafia has stopped dining here".

Gritsenko claimed that the recent shoot-outs had nothing to do with mafia rival group's alleged competition to win control over the restaurant.

Vladimir Ponomaryenko, deputy head of Moscow police's organized crime department, backed up Gritsenko's claims on Friday, denying mafia involvement in the incidents. He refused to comment on previous incidents.

In an interview on July 9, the local precinct police chief said repeated violence at the restaurant was a problem.