Chelsea FC owner Abramovich sues author of KGB book | News | DW
Lawyers for Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich have claimed he did not buy England’s top Chelsea Football Club “to bribe the West” in a court case heard by England’s High Court on Wednesday.
Putin’s people: how the KGB took over Russia and then attacked the West, written by British journalist Catherine Belton, looks at Vladimir Putin and how the former Soviet KGB leader became Russian president.
Abramovich and the Russian energy company Rosneft are suing Belton and the publisher of the book HarperCollins for some of his statements.
What did the lawyers find defamatory?
“The applicant [Abramovich] is described in the book as Putin’s cashier and custodian of the Kremlin slush funds, “Roman Abramovich’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson told the High Court.
The two-day case will attempt to establish what an ordinary person reading the book would think of his words before a possible libel case.
“The ordinary and reasonable reader would inevitably think that Roman Abramovich was ordered to buy Chelseaâ¦ he was therefore being used as the acceptable face of a corrupt and dangerous regime,” said Tomlinson.
Lawyers working for Russian oil giant Rosneft said passages in the book could be taken to claim that the company “expropriated” the assets of the company it replaced, YUKOS, in what it describes as ” a ridiculously rigged auction “.
What do the lawyers say about the book?
HarperCollins lawyer Andrew Caldecott said Abramovich was pressured to comply with Putin’s demands in the Kremlin on pain of collapsing.
“Mr. Abramovich’s fortune was, to a large extent, available on demand,” Caldecott said.
He said Belton, a former Financial Times Moscow reporter who now works with Reuters, did not give a conclusive judgment but instead offered different points of view.
Two other Russians who had also sued the book publishers have since made deals with HarperCollins to apologize and remove mention of them from the book.
jc / msh (Reuters, AP)