The company Moskovsky Shkolnik (“Moscow School Student”), owned by Yevgeny “Putin’s Chef” Prigozhin, is suing Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the Anti-Corruption Foundation he founded, and Moscow regional parliament candidate Lyubov Sobol for 500 million rubles each (around $7.75 million) for moral damages.
According to Sobol, this is Prigozhin’s estimate of the damage done to his business “of supplying schools and kindergartens in Moscow with rotten food”.
On Facebook, Sobol posted the full text of the statement of claim, in which Moskovsky Shkolnik demands the removal of defamatory video materials, specifically Sobol’s investigation into mass food poisoning in Moscow schools. Two days ago, the Moscow Court of Arbitration refused to block the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s video.
Concord, another company belonging to Prigozhin, claimed previously that Navalny was “blackmailing” it for 300 million rubles ($4.65 million), threatening to publish information about the low quality food the company supplies to schools.
At the start of 2019 there was an outbreak of dysentery at 19 schools in the Russian capital. All of the affected schools were supplied by companies belonging to Prigozhin.
On 4 April, one of the schools filed a lawsuit against Moskovsky Shkolnik for 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for supplying poor quality food. Similar lawsuits were subsequently filed by another two schools.
Navalny’s associate, jurist Lyubov Sobol, has been actively involved in the cases, representing the parents of affected children in court. Last week she reported that representatives of Concord were offering between 200,000 and 300,000 rubles ($3,000-4,600) in compensation to parents if they agree to settle out of court.