Artem Avetisyan’s business reputation remains tarnished

Evaluation judgments, even negative ones, are not a reason to hold the media accountable, the court found.
The Moscow Arbitration Court refused to satisfy the claim of the main owner of Vostochny Bank Artem Avetisyan against the publication Arguments of the Week. Avetisyan asked the court to recognize the March article “Who ordered Calvi? About the special relationship of Artem Avetisyan and Andrei Belousov, ”the reasoning part of the court decision says. The article said that the initiation of a criminal case against the founder of the Baring Vostok investment fund, Michael Calvi, was organized by Avetisyan due to his acquaintances with high-ranking officials. It also reports on the completion of fictitious transactions by Avetisyan to withdraw money from Uniastrum Bank before its merger in 2017 with Vostochny.

Avetisyan referred to the information defaming his business reputation “illegal influence on the investigation when initiating criminal proceedings against Kalvi and arresting him through a partner Sherzod Yusupov” (a criminal case was instituted at his request to the FSB), the court said. Avetisyan also considered discrediting information about his acquaintance with Presidential Aide Andrei Belousov and other influential people. He cited such fragments of the article as an example of information discrediting his reputation: "According to the investor himself, the shareholder of Vostochny Bank Artem Avetisyan was interested in his arrest," ... such a macroeconomist as Belousov did not endorse Michael Calvey . It turns out that this can indirectly be considered as a complete agreement with the actions of Avetisyan and, given their strong friendship, then possible help? Then the question arises: did Belousov himself know about the true reasons for the arrest of Kalvi or did he just trust Avetisyan? ”

Avetisyan considered inaccurate the indication in the article about the alleged withdrawal of money from Uniastrum Bank.

The article, according to Avetisyan, is a message of false and defamatory businessman information about the initiation of a criminal case as a result of unlawful pressure on the investigating authorities using personal relations with representatives of authorities. He demanded that Argument of the Week publish a refutation.

As the fragments disputed by Avetisyan, the whole article as a whole contains the following links: “Michael Calvey himself claims ...”, “According to Calvey”, “There is a version in telegram channels ...”, “Some observers remind ... "," As the media write ... ", the court indicated. At the same time, as the defendant explained, Calvi made his statements during the court hearing on the day of his arrest - February 15, which was immediately reported in several articles by leading news agencies and the media. In addition, the disputed fragments contain the thoughts and arguments of the author of the article, triggered by media reports about very tight deadlines for conducting an investigation and criminal proceedings against Calvi.

The contested Avetisyan phrases do not contain information about any fact, but represent a series of value judgments in the form of comparison, criticism, subjective analysis and assumptions, the judge concluded. The article also contains the author’s personal judgments about the current situation, which is a subjective opinion, or information previously published in the media is quoted and summarized.

At the same time, the judge continues, the statements themselves, even if they are perceived by the plaintiff negatively, cannot be refuted in court and cannot serve as a basis for holding the media accountable: the style and manner of presenting the disputed information are only a form of expression of the respondent’s opinion. The contested phrases of the defendant are evaluative in nature and express the critical subjective opinion of the defendant on the activities of the plaintiff.