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© Wikipedia; Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Royal Courts of Justice, London (inset) 'Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West' by Catherine Belton
HarperCollins, the American publishing house behind a widely contested account of Russian President Vladimir Putin's time in office, has agreed to edit future copies in the face of legal action from two top Moscow businessmen.

On Wednesday, a court in London heard that the Rupert Murdoch-owned giant would redact future copies of Putin's People, by former Financial Times Moscow correspondent Catherine Belton. The book had alleged links between Soviet security services and two Russian claimants, Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven. The pair are the founders of Alfa Bank, one of Russia's largest financial institutions.

Pyotr Aven Mikhail Fridman Alfa bank
© Moscow Times
Pyotr Aven (L) Mikhail Fridman (R)
"HarperCollins has been happy to amend the text to delete references to connections between Mr. Aven, Mr. Fridman, and the KGB (claims for which HarperCollins recognizes there has been no significant evidence), and to apologize that the subject was not discussed with them prior to initial publication," the settlement document said.

Aven and Fridman, who had brought the lawsuit, said they were pleased that the publishers accepted that Putin's People had made unfounded statements - "in particular, that there was no significant evidence that they had connections with the KGB," a spokesman told Reuters.
Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich, January 2018
In March, a third business tycoon, Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, brought a case against both Belton and HarperCollins over claims he had been instructed to buy the football club by Russian President Vladimir Putin. His legal suit is still ongoing.

In a statement posted to the club's website, Abramovich said "the book contains a number of false and defamatory statements about me." However, he added, "it has never been my ambition to gain a public profile and I have always been reluctant to provide commentary on any matters, including any false or misleading statements." However, he said the insinuations were having a detrimental effect on his reputation, and that efforts to reach a compromise with the Murdoch-owned publishing house had failed.

In February, the UK's Independent newspaper was forced to apologize to Abramovich and pay his legal fees after publishing a story in which its Moscow correspondent, Oliver Carroll, described the tycoon as a "bag holder" for Putin's "illicit presidential wealth," and advocated sanctions against him by foreign governments.

In the retraction, its editors said, "The Independent accepts that Mr. Abramovich is not a 'bag carrier' for President Putin and we did not mean to allege that he should be subjected to punitive sanctions."