Navalny Ordered to Pay 30K Rubles to Deputy for ‘Moral Harm’

Aleksei Navalny. Source: Mitya AleshkovskyOpposition blogger Aleksei Navalny has been ordered by a Moscow court to pay 30 thousand rubles (about 900 USD) as compensation for “moral harm” to United Russia State Duma Deputy Vladimir Svirid, RIA Novosti reports.

Svirid filed the charges following an article in the December 2011 volume of Esquire magazine, in which Navalny made what RIA Novosti characterized as “unflattering” comments about members of the United Russia party. Among other things, Navalny said in the issue: “If you join United Russia, you are a thief. And if you’re not a thief, then you are definitely a swindler, because your name is protecting the other swindlers and thieves.”

“The plaintiff asked for the defendant to retract statements made by Navalny on LiveJournal and also compensate him with one million rubles for moral harm.” said Maria Balakshina, press secretary for the Lyublinsky Court. “The court partially satisfied Svirid’s claims.”

The same court dismissed similar charges against Navalny by Svirid in October 2011. In that case, the deputy argued that Navalny’s phrase “United Russia is a party of swindlers and thieves” caused him moral harm.

Navalny first used the phrase on the radio station Finam FM, saying that this was his “value judgment” of the party. It was this incident that Svirid referred to in his case.

It is largely because of Navalny that the title “Party of Swindlers and Thieves” has become popularly known as the opposition’s appellation for United Russia, the party led for most of its history by Vladimir Putin and now by Dmitri Medvedev.

Vladimir Burmatov, another State Duma deputy from United Russia and chair of the Committee on Education, called on other party members to follow in Svirid’s footsteps.

“In connection with this, I would propose that all of our party members should create their own sort of flash mob. Let everyone appeal to the courts with identical suits against Navalny… And if everyone wins 30 thousand rubles – and we have two million people in our party – then it’ll turn out that Navalny, who insults honest people so frivolously, will owe us all a total of 60 billion rubles,” or 1.8 billion USD, Burmatov said.