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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 17:20 GMT
Forbes pays out to Moscow tycoon
By Steven Eke
BBC News

Moscow mayor, Yuri Luzhkov
Forbes implied the Moscow mayor had helped his wife's business
Russia's richest woman, Yelena Baturina, has won a court action for defamation against the business magazine, Forbes.

Ms Baturina is the wife of the Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov and also runs a big construction company.

Her complaint was over an article in the Russian edition of the magazine which implied that her business had benefited from her husband's position.

A Moscow court upheld her claim and ordered Forbes to pay about $4,000.

The amount is symbolic, considering the actors involved, but the case raises new questions about the freedom of Russia's media to report the lives of the rich and famous.

Following December's stand-off, which resulted in Forbes' publishers ordering the front cover to be changed, Maksim Kashulinsky repeatedly accused the company Inteko of censoring the media.

Suggestive phrase

However, Forbes' publishers took the view that their Russian operation had, in their words, "violated journalistic ethics".

A quote from an interview with Ms Baturina saying "I am guaranteed protection, like all other investors", was cut, so that it read, "I am guaranteed protection".

Given her status, both as Russia's richest woman - she is estimated to be worth $3bn - and the wife of the mayor of Moscow, it was, at the very least, a suggestive phrase.

Ms Baturina has taken on a string of Russian newspapers and television journalists who have investigated her company, income and links with the Moscow city authority.

Without exception, she has won each court case.

Ms Baturina is estimated to control a fifth of the entire building industry in Moscow, and many of the official construction contracts.

Her husband, Yuri Luzhkov, is the city's popular mayor, leading some observers to say they are a perfect example of how political power and private capital have fused in the new Russia.

However, Ms Baturina rarely accompanies the mayor on official engagements, and insists his status has not helped her business success.






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