Kohtla-Järve mayor goes to court seeking apology over alleged slander ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Court sitting of the Ljudmila Jantšenko vs Sergei Butšinski case.
Court sitting of the Ljudmila Jantšenko vs Sergei Butšinski case. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Mayor of Kohtla-Järve Ljudmila Jantšenko has turned to the courts in search of an apology after a civic activist posted what she considered slanderous comments about her on social media.

Jantšenko acknowledged that as a public figure, much has been said about her on social media, but at some point, a line had been crossed. Allegedly, a comment on Facebook referred to her taking a bribe in connection with the construction of a plant in Ahtme, Ida-Viru County, after which Jantšenko decided to sue the administrator of the Facebook group in question, activist Sergei Butšinski.

Butšinski had not posted the comment himself but is the moderator of the group, which deals with local matters, on which it appeared.

Jantšenko said: "This was slander and that is why I took the matter to court as a private citizen against the person permitting it to be published on their Facebook page, added to the fact that he 'liked' the post."

Butšinski, administrator of the Facebook group "Kohtla-Järve - uus elu!" ("Kohtla-Järve - a new life!"), said he was mystified as to Jantšenko's actions.

"I think it is strange that she positions herself as a private person but the word 'mayor' is all over the court application. In addition, the city secretary came to court to represent her, which feels very weird as well," he said.

Jantšenko says she did not think her being represented by city secretary Anna Generalova was anything out of the ordinary, even if she did take the matter to court as a private person. "She also represents me as an individual; I authorized her and made a contract with her - she is currently on vacation. This is a person who is an educated lawyer and someone I trust," the mayor explained.

While one side of the case is asking for an apology, the other does not know precisely what they need to apologize for.

For her part, Jantšenko said: "I think he must ask for forgiveness and explain to people that this is false information."

Butšinski stated in response: "She demands that I would post on the group that she has not taken a bribe. How can I confirm this when I have never even spoken on the matter? It feels like she wants to clear those in power of wrongdoing, with my help, while also threatening me with court. It is very odd."

The court will make its decision on November 13.

A Facebook search on the group name in question did not yield anything, suggesting it may have been taken down or reset as a private or secret group.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Andrew Whyte

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