Libel Warriors

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Feb. 11, 2011, 2:41 a.m. | Ukraine — by Vlad Lavrov

Rinat Akhmetov (L) and Dmytro Firtash greet each other on May 18, 2010. The pair have a lot in common. They are billionaires, close to President Viktor Yanukovych and are fond of hiring top international lawyers to protect their reputations – even if it means filing libel lawsuits in London against news organizations, as Firtash did against the Kyiv Post in 2010 and as Akhmetov has done in the past.

Vlad Lavrov

Kyiv Post staff writer

Be careful what you say or write about two Ukrainian billionaires, Rinat Akhmetov and Dmytro Firtash. If they really take offense, they might file a libel lawsuit against you in London, the ’libel tourism’ capital of the world, known for its lax protections of free speech. Critics are pushing for changes in English libel law, some of which would curb lawsuits by foreigners.

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Anonymous Feb. 11, 2011, 7:28 a.m.    

It is absolutely ridiculous that these two men, non British citizens can take their liabel suits to a British court. It makes a laughing stock of the British court system. They are not the gate keepers of the world.

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Anonymous Feb. 11, 2011, 6:12 p.m.    

You are totally missing the point. The issue is not whether one is pro or con anything. The issue is the libel laws of the UK, which have forced other countries such as the US to pass laws preventing the UK libel laws from being enforced in their countries. This UK law is nothing more than an attack on freedom of the press.

Of course, there has to be responsibility by the media, but I struggle with this suit against the KP. Kind of reminds me of the lady in the US who won a suit against McDonalds, as she scalded herself by placing her coffee, purchased there, between her legs. At what point do these issues become nothing more than nuisance and harassment suits?

Is the KP anti-Russian? Probably, but so are most papers in the free world. How can a newspaper support a regime where its journalists are denied freedom of the press, a country that has had numerous journalists assassinated?

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Anonymous Feb. 11, 2011, 6:13 p.m.    

This was in response to a comment by deBroyer, but I guess it was removed???

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Anonymous Feb. 11, 2011, 9:25 p.m.    

No matter how much Akhmetov tries to clean up his image it won't change the fact that everyone knows he is a mobster.

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