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The Moscow Times

Novaya Gazeta Could Get a Reduced Fine

April 9, 2002

Novaya Gazeta appears to have reached a compromise with the Krasnodar judge who won an unprecedented $1 million libel suit that threatened to bankrupt the newspaper. Novaya Gazeta representatives and Judge Alexander Chernov, who had sued the newspaper for defamation, met Friday and agreed that Chernov would write to a higher court asking that the amount of fine be cut "to a reasonable level," while the newspaper would acknowledge errors in its reporting.

Chernov said Monday that he was satisfied now that the newspaper was obliged to acknowledge its shabby reporting. He said he will negotiate the amount of the fine with Novaya's editor, Dmitry Muratov. "It can be any amount that would allow the newspaper to continue publication," Chernov said.

Novaya Gazeta's deputy editor, Sergei Sokolov, said the newspaper planned to file an appeal this week in hope of a reduced fine.

Meanwhile, a group of liberal politicians -- including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky and Union of Right Forces head Boris Nemtsov -- issued a statement Monday asking that the fine be reduced on appeal. The statement stressed that moral damages cannot be used to punish or drive a newspaper out of business.

Chernov sued after Novaya Gazeta published a story alleging he was living well beyond his means. The story said he owned a $50,000 watch and was building a $1 million mansion in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on a monthly salary of $300.

See also:

the original at

Freedom of Speech and Media Law in Russia

The Moscow Times, April 9, 2002

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