New Defence Minister flexes muscles in defamation suit
Campaign poster calling to vote for Lebedev
The latest defamation suit lodged by a public official in high office is a whopper: Pavlo Lebedev, appointed Defence Minister by President Yanukovych on 24 December, is demanding 10 thousand USD from a journalist, and that the court restrict her movements and freeze her immoveable assets.
He is claiming that an article published under the name of Sevastopol correspondent for the Russian information agency Novy Region, Yanina Vaskovskaya, defamed him. The material concerned the purchase by the Fund for the Socio-economic Development of Sevastopol which apparently belongs to Lebedev of an x-ray machine for Sevastopol Hospital No. 9. The information was published with reference to the Fund’s press service.
Later Novy Region published material in which it accused Lebedev of claiming the credit for the x-ray machine which had in fact been bought from public funding on the basis of a tender in 2012.
It was only in January 2013 that the Director of the Fund, Anna Shcherbakov refuted the information reported that the Fund had said that it paid for the equipment on the eve of the parliamentary elections.
This was then followed by Lebedev’s defamation suit against Yanina Vaskovskaya.
At the first hearing, the claimant applied for the journalist’s movements to be restricted and for her real estate to be frozen.
Yanina Vaskovskaya says that the lines Lebedev is objecting to were not even written by her, that as is often the case in an agency, they were written collectively.
She believes that the fact that he is suing an individual journalist is deliberate intimidation, so that other individuals will get worried.
The next hearing is scheduled for 4 March.
Pavlo Lebedev balloted for the single-mandate electoral district No. 224 in Sevastopol representing the Party of the Regions.