Russian court orders Navalny to pay damages in lawsuit filed by Kremlin ally

FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny attends a hearing to consider an appeal against an earlier court decision to change his suspended sentence to a real prison term, in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court on Friday ordered jailed dissident Alexei Navalny to pay 500,000 roubles ($6,700) in damages in a lawsuit filed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin-linked businessman, the court said.

Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was jailed for two and a half years last month over alleged parole violations related to an embezzlement case he said was trumped up for political reasons, something the authorities deny.

Prigozhin's company, Konkord, said the court told Navalny to pay damages for comments he made that were deemed defamatory, inaccurate and offensive. It did not elaborate on what those comments were.

Konkord said in December that Prigozhin had filed lawsuits against Navalny and his allies worth a total of 77 million roubles, the Interfax news agency reported.

The Kremlin's critics have cast those lawsuits as well as the jailing of Navalny and prosecution of some of his allies as part of a coordinated campaign to cripple their activities. Russian authorities deny those charges.

Navalny surfaced in a jail in Russia's Vladimir region to the east of Moscow, his allies said this week.

Prigozhin has been accused by the United States of election meddling and has been sanctioned by the U.S. and European Union.

($1 = 74.4550 roubles)

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Maria Tsvetkova; editing by Larry King)

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