On January 18, 2017, the Presnensky Regional Court of Moscow released its decision regarding the case against the Russian historian Boris Sokolov and Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy. The trial took place on November 9, December 7, and 23, 2016. The lawsuit was filed by Vera Serova, the granddaughter of the first KGB Chairman Ivan Serov, and Aleksandr Khinstein, the editor of Ivan Serov’s Russian memoir Notes from the Suitcase. The claim was based on a Russian libel law protecting the “honor and dignity” of individuals and this case seeks to protect the late General. The plaintiffs asked for the compensation claim against Dr. Sokolov of 1,5 million rubles, and the claim to Ekho Moskvy, of 2,0 million rubles. Additionally, there was the request to remove the transcript of the interview from the Ekho Moskvy website.
On December 23, 2016, the judge Anna Karpova ruled a denial of the claim. Here is a translation of the conclusive part of the 5-page-long court decision:
Сonsidering the present civil action, the court comes to the conclusion that since the fragments, cited by plaintiffs, have been published on the Ekho Moskvy website, which is a public site, open to free and without payment placement of information materials by users who have been registered on the website, who provide information of their choice and are responsible for it, and there is no payment for services for the use of blogs and royalties are not paid to the authors of blogs, the defendant Ekho Moskvy cannot be responsible for the dissemination of the above information in relation to the rules of paragraph 5, Part 1 of Article 57 of the Russian Federation Law “On Mass Media.”
In these circumstances, given that the fact of distribution by the defendants of information, discrediting the honor, dignity and business reputation of the plaintiff, has not found its confirmation in the proceedings, the court does not find grounds for satisfaction of the claim.
Since the plaintiff’s claims on protection of honor, dignity and business reputation were denied, there is also no grounds for satisfaction of the claims for compensation for moral damage.
Considering the request of the ZAO [Closed Joint-Stock Company] Ekho Moskvy on the distribution of the court expenses for the linguistic assessment, the court concludes to reject this claim, since the costs incurred cannot be recognized by the court as induced, as part of the statements of the claim, and the question of the appropriateness of presenting such evidence has not been raised by the participants and discussed by the court.
Based on the aforesaid and guided by Articles 194-199 of the Russian Federation Civil Procedure Code, the court
To deny the claims by Khinstein Aleksander Evseevich [and] Serova Vera Vladimirovna to the ZAO Ekho Moskvy [and] Sokolov Boris Vadimovich, on protection of honor and dignity, and compensation for moral damage.
The decision can be appealed by filing an appellate complaint to the Moscow City Court through the Presnensky Regional Court of Moscow during one month from the date of issuing the court decision in the final form.
Judge Karpova A. I.
Click link below to view a PDF of the full court decision (in Russian):
Court Decision in the Sokolov Case
It is not known yet if the plaintiffs have decided to appeal.
In the meantime, Dr. Sokolov just published his new historical book in Russian, Price of the War: Human Losses of Russia/USSR in the 20th-21th Centuries (Moscow: AIRO-XXI, 2017), in which he describes Russian losses in all armed conflicts from the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 to the current war in the Donbass Region 2014-2016. He also compares Russian losses with the losses of all countries that participated in these conflicts. According to Sokolov, during the Great Patriotic War (from June 22, 1941 to May 9, 1945), 26,9 million Red Army servicemen died (of them, 22,9 million in battles), and 13,2-14,0 million civilians; the German losses (Wehrmacht) were 2,6 million at the Eastern Front.
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