Friday, February 11, 2005
A Russian newspaper owned by Boris Berezovsky has paid up in a defamation case filed by Alfa Bank last summer. Kommersant had published an article in which it suggested that the bank was in financial trouble. As a result, the bank claimed it lost substantial deposits when customers panicked, and it sued in Moscow's Arbitration Court, winning a judgment of the equivalent of more than $11 million. But in protest, in its January 31st issue the paper featured the court's ruling as well as a photograph of the bank's owner shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Five of the paper's other eight pages were blank. Observers consider the Kommersant's choice of the photograph, as well as the rest of the content of the issue, an ironic commentary on the state of freedom of the press in Russia today. For more see Neil Buckley, Bank Victory Makes Russian Press Cutting, Financial Times, Feb. 1, 2005. Read Kommersant's original story and followup articles here. Peter Krug, Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma Law School, has discussed Russian press law in Civil Defamation Law and the Press in Russia, 13 Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal, 487 (1995) and 14 Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal 297 (1996). He is currently researching and writing more on the issue of legal rights in Russia, having recently presented a paper on the subject at the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies in Boston on December 4, 2004.