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Wife of Russian Politician Demands All Issues of Liberal Newspaper Destroyed

News Brief

Novaya Gazeta newspaper, one of the last remaining liberal voices in Russia is once again under attack, this time from Igor Sechin, one of the most powerful men in Russia, a close friend of Vladimir Putin and the CEO of the world’s fifth biggest oil and gas company Rosneft. Sechin is suing the publisher for defamation after the newspaper printed an investigation into his alleged ownership of one of the world’s most expensive yachts. St. Princess Olga is 85.6 meters long and equipped with a gym, spa, elevator and a swimming pool that can transform into a helicopter pad. Its estimated worth is $190 million, according to the report. Reporters from Novaya Gazeta and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project investigated the yacht’s ownership largely by tracking the Instagram account of Sechin’s young, globe-trotting wife, who is also named Olga. The reporting team matched publicly available aerial photos of the yacht with pictures Sechina uploaded of herself on board as well as tracked correlations between the yacht’s documented route with geolocation tags and timestamps included in Sechina’s posts.

But Olga Sechina says that by publishing her public photos the newspaper violated her privacy. She and her husband want all print and digital copies of the investigation destroyed. Rosneft has independently threatened to sue Novaya Gazeta and all other news sources involved in distributing the story including independent news channel TV Rain. This is the latest of several defamation lawsuits both Sechin and Rosneft have brought before the Russian courts in the past two years against Russian media including the news organization RBK, Russian Forbes and newspapers Vedomosti and Komsomolskaya Pravda. In several cases, as with Russian Forbes, the publication was compelled by the judge to print a denial of the information it published about Sechin’s income.