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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid