Corruption lawsuit against Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected

A Moscow court has rejected a lawsuit filed against Russian President Vladimir Putin by opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The suit accused Putin of violating corruption laws by approving a low-interest state loan of $1.75 billion US to a petrochemicals company in which his son-in-law is a shareholder.

Putin critic Alexei Navalny alleged he violated corruption laws when he gave $1.75B to son-in-law's company

Alexei Navalny accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of violating corruption laws by granting a low-interest $1.75 billion US state loan to Sibur, a petrochemical company in which Putin's son-in-law is a major shareholder. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

A Moscow court has rejected a lawsuit filed against Russian President Vladimir Putin by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the RIA news agency quoted a spokeswoman for the court as saying on Friday.

Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner, said on Thursday he had filed the suit. He accused Putin of violating corruption laws after a company in which the Russian leader's son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, is a shareholder received $1.75 billion US in state support.

The suit cited a Reuters investigation that reported that Shamalov is a major shareholder in petrochemicals producer Sibur, which received the funding from Russia's National Wealth Fund at an unusually low interest rate last year.

Navalny, right, a longtime critic of Putin, says the president 'giving money to a company where the beneficiary is his child's partner is a classic conflict of interest.' (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

When asked about Navalny's legal action, Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Thursday the Russian leader was unaware of the suit. Peskov did not reply to a Reuters request for comment on Thursday.

RIA quoted a spokeswoman for Moscow's Tverskoi court, Anastasia Dzyurko, as saying it had rejected Navalny's suit on technical grounds. The court could not immediately be reached for comment.

Navalny sarcastically said on his official Twitter account that he was "shocked" by the decision. He said he thought it was interesting that the court's decision to reject his suit had nothing to do with its substance but was due "apparently" to a technicality. 

'A classic conflict of interest'

Navalny's suit, a copy of which was posted on his blog Thursday, asked the court to rule unlawful Putin's failure to act in preventing a conflict of interest.

He asked the court to require Putin to recuse himself from any decisions about providing state funds for the Sibur 
project which benefited from the financing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a Sibur plant in Voronezh, Russia, in May 2013. Also pictured are Voronezh region governor Alexey Gordeyev, far left, Leonid Mikhelson, centre, and Kirill Shamalov, far right (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters)

"Kirill Shamalov is the spouse of Putin's daughter. Putin giving money to a company where the beneficiary is his child's partner is a classic conflict of interest. Straight out of a textbook," Navalny wrote in a post on his blog.

A Sibur spokesman said in December the state loan was approved in strict accordance with the law. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which took the decision to make the loan, said it fully complied with procedures for investing state money in infrastructure projects.

A Reuters investigation last year found that Shamalov married Putin's youngest daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, in early 2013, shortly before acquiring a majority stake in Sibur. 
A graphic illustrating the ties between Sibur's major shareholders and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Reuters)