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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Region to Renegotiate Libel Case

ST. PETERSBURG -- Under pressure from its own bailiffs and U.S. officials, the Murmansk region government has agreed to negotiate with Bill Davies, a U.S. businessman who is attempting to enforce a court award against the region worth as much as $1 million.

Murmansk is liable for a total of more than $800,000 plus interest that the Lovozero district -- Murmansk region's biggest district -- owes Davies under a November 1997 arbitration ruling by the international arbitration court in Stockholm, Sweden. Davies sued the Lovozero district for breach of contract after the administration, with the help of armed troops, forced him and his clients off the site of a fishing camp he had set up on the Varzina River.

The region has made promises to negotiate before, but this time, the second-in-command of the region, Anatoly Malinin, called Davies personally Wednesday to schedule a meeting for Monday.

"I'm much more optimistic today," Davies said in a telephone interview Thursday from Murmansk, adding that he had met Malinin before, and thinks the Monday talks will be fruitful. "He's the only one in the administration that has any sense at all. I think they're finally ready to settle things."

Davies credited the sudden response from the administration to the fact that he had sent a formal letter to the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg, stating that the region administration was not serious about paying its debt and that seizure of the assets of the Lovozero district would begin.

"We'd probably be able to get some computers, telephones and typewriters," he said of Lovozero's assets. Davies said that the assets were not worth much, but the visible proof of Murmansk's recalcitrance would have unpleasant consequences for the region.