Court turns down National Guard chief’s defamation suit against Kremlin critic Navalny

Court turns down National Guard chief’s defamation suit against Kremlin critic Navalny Their much-hyped duel didn’t happen last year and now it turns out that differences between Russia’s National Guard’s boss, Viktor Zolotov, and anti-corruption blogger, Aleksey Navalny, won’t be settled in court either.

A defamation claim filed by General Zolotov in December didn’t comply with the relevant articles of the Civil Procedure Code. He was given until January 9 to get it in order, but failed to do so, a Moscow court said, explaining the reasons why the lawsuit has been returned to the claimant.

The rift between Zolotov and the Kremlin critic began in September after a report by Navalny’s NGO, the Foundation for Countering Corruption, alleged that tenders for food purchases by the National Guard were rigged in favor of a single supplier.

In his civil action, the National Guard commander demanded that the court declare those claims invalid and that they had tarnished his business reputation. Zolotov demanded 1 million rubles ($15,000) in damages from the opposition blogger, promising to hand the money to an orphanage if he won.

The security chief was outraged by the accusations of corruption against his agency, blasting them as “insulting and slandering.”

In a YouTube address, he reminded Navalny that “scoundrels” had been for centuries challenged to a duel, and vowed to turn his opponent “into minced meat” during “hand-to-hand combat.”

The opposition blogger and head of the unregistered political party, Future Russia, eventually accepted the challenge – but suggested a debate on national TV instead of a fistfight.

Zolotov ignored the proposal as it came in mid-October and coincided with the shooting at a college in Kerch, in which 21 people were killed and almost 50 were injured. According to his spokesman, the National Guard commander was fully focused on providing security in Crimea at that moment and had no time to deal with Navalny.

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