A district court in Moscow on Wednesday rejected a defamation lawsuit by ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov against Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the outspoken leader of Russia's ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR).
"We would use all lawful opportunities to appeal this verdict, which we believe is unfounded," the ex-mayor's representative Alexei Melnikov said.
Luzhkov demanded that Zhirinovsky paid 3 million rubles ($100,000) to compensate for his public allegations of rampant corruption in the Moscow city administration.
Zhirinovsky's lawyers argued that the politician's statements were "criticism," not an attempt to tarnish the official's reputation.
Freedom of speech includes "expressing opinions that may offend, shock or cause concern," Zhirinovsky's representative Lyudmila Romanchenko said.
But Melnikov countered: "This is not criticism. These statements are beyond the pale and tarnish the reputation of my principal."
The lawsuit was filed by Luzhkov and 20 high-ranking Moscow administration officials last August, when the ex-mayor was still in office. The 20 officials later withdrew their complaints.
The court earlier upheld the suit and ordered Zhirinovsky to pay 500,000 rubles ($16,000), but the Supreme Court annulled the verdict and ordered the case re-examined.
Luzhkov also announced plans to sue Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin who accused him of fostering "over-the-top corruption" during his 18 years as Moscow mayor.
Moscow's former mayor will appear for questioning in a corruption inquiry on November 15. The inquiry is connected to Bank of Moscow, which Luzhkov allegedly used to bankroll his wife's real estate projects.
The ex-mayor says the questioning was linked to his recent interview with Radio LIberty, in which he criticized state leaders and the ruling United Russia party.