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Russian Tycoon Announces Meme Contest In Spat With Navalny

A combo photo of Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov (left) and opposition leader Aleksei Navalny

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has fired a new salvo in a high-profile dispute with opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, announcing an online competition for "the best stickers, caricatures, parodies, videos, and memes" about the standoff.

Usmanov wrote on the social network VKontakte on May 29 that he will pick a winner each week and award that person an iPhone 7+ and a T-shirt with the winning meme and the tycoon's autograph.

Usmanov and Navalny have been sparring online since May 17, exchanging criticism linked to a defamation suit that the tycoon filed against the Kremlin foe and his Anticorrupotion Foundation in April.

A court hearing is scheduled for May 30.

The defamation claim stems from a March 2 report by Navalny's foundation that focused on Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and included allegations that Usmanov gave expensive property to a foundation linked to Medvedev at no cost.

Usmanov is one of Russia's richest men and has warm ties with the Kremlin.

Navalny, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin, is trying to get on the ballot in a March 2018 election in which Putin is widely expected to seek and win a new six-year term.

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