'Leviathan' Actor Wins Defamation Suit Against Russian Legislator

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A court ruled that an article written by the legislator contained defamatory remarks.

Leviathan actor Valery Grishko has won a defamation lawsuit against a Russian legislator amidst accusations of being “unpatriotic” for playing an Orthodox priest in the film.

A local court in Samara, where Grishko lives and works as a local theater's chief director, has ruled that an article published by city legislator Dmitry Sivirkin on a local web site contained defamatory remarks aimed at Grishko.

The court also ruled that the defendant is to pay to Grishko 50,000 rubles ($1,000) in damages – still, significantly lowering the amount from the 1 million rubles ($20,000) the actor demanded.

In the article, Sivirkin referred to Grishko as "insufficiently literate" and "not really patriotic."

Sivirkin was apparently not upset by the verdict, quoted by the online newspaper Gazeta.ru as saying that the amount he is to pay in damages is "the right price for telling the truth."

The legislator joined a chorus of those attacking the actor this past February, when an illegitimate copy of Leviathan was massively watched online in Russia, causing a wave of criticism against the creators of the Golden Globe winning and Oscar nominated movie.

Back then, a group of activists in Samara region demanded that Grishko be fired from his theater job as his Leviathan performance was "a cynical and dirty parody of the Russian Orthodox priesthood." There was also a call to investigate the theater's funding from the regional budget. Nothing has come out of either move so far.