Russian opposition sues Putin for slander: Leader

Russia`s opposition leaders on Thursday said they were filing defamation suits against president-turned-premier Vladimir Putin who accused them of seeking to squander Russia`s resources.

Last Updated: Dec 24, 2010, 00:10 AM IST

Moscow: Russia`s opposition leaders on Thursday
said they were filing defamation suits against
president-turned-premier Vladimir Putin who accused them of
seeking to squander Russia`s resources.

"This is nothing else but lies and slander," Boris
Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under late president
Boris Yeltsin turned opposition leader, said.

"We demand from Putin an apology and a million roubles
(USD 32,600) in compensation," Nemtsov said.

"We intend to spend this million to print materials
about corruption in Putin`s circle," he added.

He said that the first lawsuit had already been sent
to a court by mail and another one would be lodged next month.

During a marathon question-and-answer session with
ordinary Russians last week, Putin was asked what Nemtsov and
two other key opposition figures -- former MP Vladimir Ryzhkov
and former deputy energy minister Vladimir Milov -- were
after.

"What do they want? Money and power. They have been
pulled away from the trough, they`ve spent all they had, now
they would like to return and line their pockets.

"But I think if we allow them to do it they would not
limit themselves to mere billions, they will sell off all of
Russia," Putin told Russians during the phone-in session that
lasted four-and-a-half hours.

He directly accused the opposition politicians of
stealing "billions" together with self-exiled Russian
businessman Boris Berezovsky.

Observers say Berezovsky, known as the country`s top
kingmaker in the 90s, had helped Putin ascend to power in the
1990s before falling out of favour with him.

PTI