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© RIA Novosti. Petr Chernov

Khimki mayor ordered to appear in court

by at 22/10/2010 11:09

Khimki’s mayor Vladimir Strelchenko has been ordered to appear in court to support his lawsuit against newspaper editor Mikhail Beketov.

Beketov, pictured above on his way to an earlier hearing, is accused of slandering the town’s chief in his Khimkinskaya Pravda newspaper.

But at a court hearing on Thursday mayor Strelchenko failed to show, Kommersant reported, asking for the court to hear from his representative instead.

And the mayor has apparently gone on unpaid leave, making him unable to attend the latest hearing.

 

Strelchenko summoned

Beketov, who attended the hearing despite his serious health problems, launched a counter-claim requiring the mayor to face questions – and was backed from the bench.

“Strelchenko’s representatives asked to restrict the case to the written testimony of the chief, but the court granted our motion and moved the hearing, once against calling on Strelchenko to appear,” defence lawyer Andrei Stolbunov told Kommersant.

 

“Abuse of power”

The court did hear from Alexei Valov, Khimki’s deputy mayor, who admitted he rarely read newspapers and could not remember the name of Beketov’s publication.

But he was quite clear that he had seen the journalist appear on TV making slanderous statements about the city authorities over the destruction of trees in Khimki forest, Newsru reported.

“Does he work for ‘Pravda Khimok’? I don’t remember, I rarely read newspapers,” said Valov. “But I know that in this newspaper he slings mud all over the country. He constantly abused power.

“In general, any article of his is a lie.”

 

Forest furore

Beketov was the first journalist to question the route of the controversial Moscow – St. Petersburg highway which is set to slice through Khimki forest, destroying acres of precious woodland.

He believes the attack on him in Nov. 2008 – which left him fighting for his life and cost him a leg and three fingers – was politically motivated by vested interests in the road.

And his persistent criticism of the Khimki authorities prompted a law suit from Strelchenko after the journalist claimed the city had deliberately failed to investigate a car bomb attack on him a few months before he was beaten up.

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