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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Brother Sues Baturina Over Sacking

VedomostiViktor Baturin
Yelena Baturina, the country's richest woman and the wife of Moscow's mayor, is being sued by her brother and former business partner Viktor Baturin.

Baturin, formerly the deputy head of Inteko, the billion-dollar concrete, plastics and real estate business that his sister heads, said Wednesday that he was suing the company for his dismissal and for the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of Inteko shares.

"As Mayor Yury Mikhailovich Luzhkov taught us, if your rights have been broken then you should sue," Baturin said by telephone.

The businessman insisted that he was not attempting to get back his job at Inteko but simply fighting for his rights.

An Inteko representative refused to comment.

Baturin announced the lawsuit in an interview with the tabloid newspaper Tvoi Den on Wednesday.

For a company well-known for its ability to keep out of the public view, this is the second incident that has thrust it into the media spotlight in as many months. Forbes magazine postponed its December issue after Inteko threatened to sue over a cover story about Baturina. The issue was only published after Forbes editor Maxim Kashulinsky tendered his resignation and the Forbes U.S. office intervened.

The two siblings, who had been in business together at Inteko for more than 15 years, split in December 2005, although Baturin's departure was only officially announced in January 2006. Two months later, Baturin sold his 1 percent stake in the company for 552 million rubles ($21 million) to Inteko.

Baturin did not say why he had waited a year to sue but insisted that his sacking was illegal. He said he had not been formally informed of his departure, as required by the law. He also said he wanted back his workbook, which shows his employment history, and information about his pension payments. He said he expected the court case to be over by the end of this month. He refused to say in what court the case would be heard.

Media reports have speculated that the split between the two was linked to Baturin's leadership of Inteko-Agro in the Belgorod region. Inteko-Agro has fought a bitter dispute with regional authorities over farmland, and Inteko has linked the dispute with the killing of one of its lawyers in October 2005.

Asked about the Belgorod dispute, Baturin said it was the first time he had heard of that being the possible reason for his dismissal. "You are better informed than me," he said before explaining how Inteko-Agro, which he still heads, had broken several agricultural world records recently in the Belgorod region. After Baturin left Inteko, he was given whole ownership of Inteko-Agro, the former agricultural arm of Inteko.

When he sold his Inteko shares in March last year, Baturin denied any problems with the company. "I haven't worked in Inteko since December. There is no conflict in the situation. Life continues," he told reporters, Interfax reported.

Baturin said Wednesday that he was also suing for hundreds of millions of dollars over the loss of a 25 percent stake in Inteko that he said disappeared sometime in 2002 or 2003. "The 25 percent is still mine," Baturin told Tvoi Den, "although for some reason everyone thinks that the shares belong to my sister."

He confirmed that the quote was correct Wednesday.

He said the lawsuit was not personal. "How could I be upset at my younger sister?" he said, referring to Baturina, who Forbes says is worth $2.3 billion.