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Russian State Channel RT Files Lawsuit Against Opposition Figure Navalny

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny

MOSCOW -- The Russian state-controlled broadcaster RT has filed a lawsuit against opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny, alleging that he damaged the firm’s business reputation.

Navalny posted notice of the lawsuit on his Twitter account on June 7.

Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, and the news website were also named as defendants in the suit.

According to the notice, Moscow’s Arbitration Court found unspecified “errors” in the lawsuit and gave RT additional time to correct them.

Navalny and his foundation have published several exposés in recent months about RT and its editor in chief, Margarita Simonyan. It was unclear which of the reports was the trigger for the lawsuit.

Some of the publications have described various means by which RT, formerly known as Russia Today, boosts the number of views it has on the YouTube platform. Others, in general, have accused RT of being ineffective and a drain on the Russian state budget.

“Other propagandists, [Channel One’s Vladimir] Solovyov or [Rossia-24’s Dmitry] Kiselyov, for instance, at least have their viewers on state television,” Sobol said in an interview with RFE/RL in April. “But as we have shown, Margarita Simonyan has no audience.”

Navalny’s foundation has also accused RT of violating Russian legislation on noncommercial organizations.

In March, the Anti-Corruption Foundation issued a report alleging that Simonyan; her husband, filmmaker Tigran Keosayan; and their relatives received tens of millions of rubles from the state budget to produce a patriotic romantic comedy set against the backdrop of the construction of a bridge linking the Ukrainian region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, to Russia.

According to Navalny’s Foundation, Simonyan was paid 9.1 million rubles ($138,000) and Keosayan received 13.9 million rubles ($211,000) for their work on the 2018 film, titled The Crimean Bridge. Made With Love!

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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