Russia’s Abramovich denies shopping for Chelsea for Putin, courtroom hears

  • Abramovich and Rosneft sue writer over Putin guide
  • Abramovich was not Putin’s cashier – attorney states
  • Abramovich failed to acquire Chelsea to corrupt West – law firm
  • Rosneft claims it did not expropriate Yukos property
  • HarperCollins reaches settlement with Fridman and Aven

LONDON, July 28 (Reuters) – Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is not President Vladimir Putin’s “cashier” nor did he invest in Chelsea FC as a auto to corrupt the West, his law firm explained to England’s Large Courtroom in a defamation listening to about a guide about Putin’s Russia.

In the 2020 e book, British journalist Catherine Belton chronicles Putin’s rise to power and how quite a few of his associates from the previous Soviet spy services rose to positions of prosperity and impact following he won the prime Kremlin job in 1999.

A law firm for Abramovich explained to the courtroom that passages in the ebook “Putin’s Folks: How the KGB Took Back again Russia and then Took on the West”, printed by HarperCollins, had been obviously defamatory. Abramovich is suing equally HarperCollins and Belton.

The hearing is supposed to determine what a acceptable and normal reader would realize the allegedly defamatory statements to signify. Those people disputed statements will then form the foundation of the defamation demo.

“The claimant is described in the e book as Putin’s cashier and the custodian of Kremlin slush funds,” Hugh Tomlinson, a law firm for Chelsea FC operator Roman Abramovich, advised the Superior Courtroom about the e book.

“What is said to be going on is that Mr Abramovich is creating his prosperity accessible to Putin… secretly to Putin and his cronies – that is the check out the reasonable and normal reader would just take,” Tomlinson said of Belton’s e-book.

HarperCollins’s lawyer, Andrew Caldecott, said that Abramovich experienced very little option but to comply with the calls for of Putin’s Kremlin or experience damage given the ability of Kremlin hardliners.

“Mr Abramovich’s prosperity was, to a substantial extent, on connect with when requested,” Caldecott instructed the court docket, incorporating the Belton continuously gave various factors of view on disputed occasions and prevented building a conclusive judgements.

Belton is a previous Fiscal Times Moscow correspondent and now a Reuters exclusive correspondent. Belton, who attended the hearing, declined to remark.


Tomlinson stated Belton’s reserve relied on what he cast as “unreliable” sources these types of as Sergei Pugachev, a Russian businessman who afterwards fell foul of the Kremlin. Pugachev, contacted by Reuters, declined to remark right on the scenario but explained he was concerned in his personal authorized action versus the Russian condition. He declined to elaborate.

Tomlinson stated the e-book alleged that Putin requested Abramovich to order Chelsea soccer club as “part of a plan to corrupt the West” and to “develop a bulkhead of Russian affect.”

“The normal and reasonable reader would inevitably appear out with the watch that Roman Abramovich was instructed to obtain Chelsea… so he was staying made use of as the suitable facial area of a corrupt and dangerous routine,” Tomlinson claimed.

Attorneys for Rosneft, Russia’s most important oil business, explained in files submitted to court that they took difficulty with passages in the book which were being comprehended to necessarily mean that the business experienced “expropriated” the belongings of YUKOS – after Russia’s biggest oil company – and ordered YUKOS assets at a “farcically rigged auction”.

Rosneft and CEO Igor Sechin did not answer to composed requests for comment on the scenario when contacted by Reuters.

Attorneys for Rosneft took issue with passages in the e book which claimed that Sechin was powering what Belton termed “the assault”
on Yukos.

“The passages complained of are really particularly qualified at the Russian governing administration/Kremlin and Mr Sechin in his ability as Mr Putin’s ‘closest associate’,” lawyers for HarperCollins argued in files submitted to courtroom.

The court was told on Wednesday that HarperCollins experienced agreed to settle with two other Russian businessmen, Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven, who experienced sued the publisher. HarperCollins will amend some passages in the ebook about them, in accordance to the settlement, which was launched on Wednesday.

“HarperCollins has been pleased to amend the textual content to delete references to connections amongst Mr Aven, Mr Fridman and the KGB (claims for which HarperCollins recognises there has been no major evidence), and to apologise that the issue was not talked about with them prior to preliminary publication,” the settlement claimed.

Aven and Fridman said they had been happy that HarperCollins recognised that the e book was inaccurate in what it stated about them, “in individual that there was no important proof that they experienced connections with the KGB,” a spokesman reported.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in London and Vladimir Soldatkin and Tatiana Ustinova in Moscow Enhancing by Giles Elgood and Jon Boyle

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