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

Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More