Abramovich Sues Journalist for Libel

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has launched a defamation lawsuit against the former Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times, Catherine Belton, and her publisher. This follows accusations in her book Putin’s People concerning Abramovich’s purchase of Chelsea Football Club. You can read my thoughts on the case in an article on RT here. I decline to say whether the accusations constitute defamation – that’s for the courts to decide – but I do point out that the claim ‘is not well supported by evidence.’ I conclude that while journalists have a right to be concerned about libel suits, they should be equally concerned about publishing scurrilous rumours based on dubious sources. But are they? Or is that what constitutes ‘excellent journalism’ when it comes to Russia?

12 thoughts on “Abramovich Sues Journalist for Libel”

  1. **** ’em all.

    Abramo has mega money and Belton is Western mass media establishment. Plenty of other instances of misinformation, muting and attempted muting, not getting attention and just as wrong, if not more so.


  2. This article raises a lot of important issues about Western coverage of Russia, both pro- and con-, and how it changes over the years, while the main players remain ideological prostitutes to the core.

    Interesting about the Duranty case, this was back in the days when certain Westie reporters wrote uncritically of, and even justified, the Stalinist purges of Old Bolsheviks.

    This is what Trotsky had to say at the time (1938) about Duranty and The Nation and other whores of the Pen who were busy apologizing for Stalin’s purges of Lenin’s Central Committee:

    “The big bourgeoisie of the democratic countries, not without pleasure, though blanketed with fastidiousness, watched the execution of the revolutionists in the USSR. In this sense, the Nation and the New Republic, not to speak of Duranty, Louis Fischer, and their kindred prostitutes of the pen, fully responded to the interests of ‘democratic’ imperialism.”

    Trotsky described Duranty as the “correspondent of the New York Times, whom the Kremlin has always entrusted with the dirtiest journalistic tasks.”

    Nowadays, of course, the situation is a tad different; if Duranty were alive today, he’d probably be scribbling furiously how nefarious Russians hacked the American election… Whatever his paymasters order….


    1. Although it seems unfair to target one alleged pro-soviet propagandist when events of that era such as both the Holodomor and the purges are heavily disputed in terms of scale , how and why they occured.

      Mostly it’s unfair because we know there was a whole army of anti-soviet propagandists there to spread lies in the west. Americans still cannot get the sequence of Cuban Missile crisis events in order because if they did then Soviet leadership would only be seen in a good or rational light. You do raise an interesting topic on Trotsky. I feel the main driver of anti-russian propaganda in the west is Trotskyists or so-called former Trotskyists


  3. Concerning books with BS on Russia related matters:

    Craig Unger’s next book can be about how the Russians have Kompromat on much of Western mass media (Rachel Maddow included), as evidenced by the fact that they’ve not given his most recent book much attention – as he himself has noted.

    Some folks can’t accurately connect all of the dots.


  4. How can such a case be argued in a court of law? Same way as whether “Kemal Atatürk had an entire menagerie called Abdul”?

    I am not a lawyer, but it seems like if person A claims that person B claimed that person C said something to person D, even if both C and D deny it, the case can’t be conclusively decided, unless there are actual witnesses or a tape.

    It’s almost like Abramovich has decided to create publicity for this book, which few would have noticed otherwise.


      1. Remember how the argument went?

        S: No he didn’t!
        C: Did!
        S: Didn’t!
        C: Did, did, did, did, did and DID!
        S: Oh, all right.
        C: Spoken like a gentleman, sir.


    1. The case is against person A. The case hinges on statements and claims produced by person A (and their associates). Whether any of person B, C or D claimed something, did something, knew something or even existed in the first place, is initially irrelevant to the case. That’s why it is a libel case and not a divulgence.

      Of course, the court reserves an option ignore any and all logic, law or claims altogether and dismiss the case without hearing, but what is the purpose of such court, again?

      That is not all of it – Abramovich himself, voluntary or not, also acts as a proxy to the much wider case – the defamation of Russian state and it’s acting president. Trying to sidestep it or let it slide will result in another display of utter inability of “journalism” to deal with the reality.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, Abramovich certainly knows his way around the English court system, which is no mean achievement. If I am not mistaken, he earlier (a few years back) won a case in the High Court. Against some other oligarch, I forget who.


      2. Against some other oligarch, I forget who.

        Boris Berezovsky, if am not completely mistaken.The late Beresovsky felt Abramovich owed him a lot. The court thought, no he didn’t.


    2. Lola, I love law cases. It does not get us to the truth, or the one and only truth, that some people curiously seem to believe in. But somewhat, somehow it may get us closer to the journalistic ideal: facts are sacred, opinion is free.

      David Habakkuk who once in while surfaces here in the comment section, and surely Catherine Belton has been on his radar for a quite some time. As retired journalist.


      I wouldn’t quite hold my breath, but it is no doubt going to be an interesting on many layers.


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