News / Europe

Russian Billionaire Lebedev Pleads Not Guilty in Court

Russian media magnate Alexander Lebedev speaks to the media after arriving for a court hearing in Moscow, May 20, 2013.Russian media magnate Alexander Lebedev speaks to the media after arriving for a court hearing in Moscow, May 20, 2013.
x
Russian media magnate Alexander Lebedev speaks to the media after arriving for a court hearing in Moscow, May 20, 2013.
Russian media magnate Alexander Lebedev speaks to the media after arriving for a court hearing in Moscow, May 20, 2013.
Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev has pleaded not guilty to charges of hooliganism motivated by political hatred. Lebedev says that he is being targeted by Russian President Vladimir Putin because Putin believes he is funding the opposition.

Alexander Lebedev, co-owner of Novaya Gazeta, Russia's leading opposition newspaper, went on trial Monday in a Moscow court. Lebedev faces charges of hooliganism motivated by political hatred for punching a Russian businessman and property developer, Sergei Polonsky, during a television talk show in 2011.

Lebedev denies the charges. He said he doesn't think he's guilty and doesn't understand the charges against him. Lebedev said he was not motivated by hooliganism or political hatred because he didn't know the defendant.

Polonsky was not at the trial because he is being held in Cambodia in an unrelated criminal case.

The two were guests on a TV talk show in September 2011 when Lebedev jumped out of his chair and started punching Polonsky after Polonsky teased him. Polonsky was knocked off the studio's podium.

Lebedev says he believes he's now facing the charges of hooliganism, which carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison, because Putin thinks he's financing the opposition. Lebedev denies the claim.

Hooliganism is a term applied broadly in Russia, frequently covering behavior that is not deemed appropriate by the Kremlin or not specifically defined by law.

Lebedev is the latest to face hooliganism charges. Members of the all-female punk band, Pussy Riot, were charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after staging an anti-Putin protest on the altar of Russia's most prominent Orthodox cathedral. Two band members were sentenced to two-year prison terms in penal colonies.

Putin returned to the Kremlin for a third term in May of 2012 and has faced unprecedented opposition demonstrations.

The opposition claims Putin won the country's December 2011 parliamentary elections through vote rigging and ballot stuffing. Demonstrators also say Putin runs the country through a tightly controlled political system and corruption. The Kremlin denies all of the charges.

Since the demonstrations, the Kremlin has launched a major crackdown on dissent. It has leveled criminal charges against members of the opposition, increased more than 150-fold the fines for participating in and organizing unsanctioned protests, required non-governmental organizations that received foreign funding to register as foreign agents, and forced the United States Agency for International Development to end its presence in Russia after 20 years there.

The Kremlin has consistently maintained that it is not trying to quash the opposition, but simply enforcing the law and making Russia a safe place for all.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
May 20, 2013 8:54 PM
There isn’t any doubt of politically inspired nature of the trial. The world has already got accustomed that anybody openly opposing the anticonstitutional regime faces one sort or another trial and gets guilty sentence. The Novaya Gazeta is the gulp of fresh air and the sore in the Kremlin’s eye in the stifling atmosphere of heavily censored mass media in Russia. In sharp contrast, Mr Zhirinovsky on numerous occasions would break into violent behavior in front of TV cameras but was never brought into account because he is the Kremlin’s darling. But the Kremlin doesn’t comprehend that a) it can’t put behind the prison bars all the Russians opposing the permanent suspension of basic human rights, b) the heavy handed tactics of intimidation is the only reason that Russia has slid into the economic recession not connected with any internal financial or economic crisis.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs