News / Europe

Russian Tycoon Alexander Lebedev Charged With Hooliganism

Alexander Lebedev, chairman of Russia's National Reserve Corporation, speaks during an interview with Reuters journalists in Moscow September 25, 2012.Alexander Lebedev, chairman of Russia's National Reserve Corporation, speaks during an interview with Reuters journalists in Moscow September 25, 2012.
Alexander Lebedev, chairman of Russia's National Reserve Corporation, speaks during an interview with Reuters journalists in Moscow September 25, 2012.
Alexander Lebedev, chairman of Russia's National Reserve Corporation, speaks during an interview with Reuters journalists in Moscow September 25, 2012.
Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev has been charged with hooliganism and assault for punching property developer Sergei Polonsky while they were on a TV talk show last year. Lebedev is an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and has said he believes the charges are politically motivated.

The 52-year-old banker and media magnate owns the British newspapers, The Independent and London’s Evening Standard, and is known for openly criticizing the Kremlin.  

Lebedev also owns a stake in one of the only independent newspapers in Russia that is known for its hard-hitting reporting on the administration, Novaya Gazeta. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev also is part owner of the paper that has exposed massive corruption in Russia. Four journalists at the paper were killed between 2001 and 2009.

Lebedev said he has been lucky to express his opinions so far.

"It looks like things have started to come to the point. And I have to thank the authorities for having tolerated me for such a long time, allowing me for seven years to publish the most influential free opposition newspaper, and also voicing my views on certain wrong things," he said.

Lebedev said, however, he does not fund the opposition. He claimed he now faces jail time for an incident last year because Russian President Vladimir Putin is targeting anyone he thinks is backing the opposition here in Russia.

Lebedev said it is dangerous to back anything except Putin.

"So I won't recommend anybody who is doing business here, especially if you are a foreigner but even to the locals, do not keep it together - business with, say, opposition newspaper - or any activities that might be looked from the "siloviki" position as being opposition, or dissident, et cetera," he said.

Siloviki is a Russian word that roughly translates to force structures, or former KGB men and women and military officers.  

The Kremlin denies putting any pressure on Lebedev. Lebedev, though, said he had been warned.

"Well, clearly I was warned officially a week ago about something that's going to happen tomorrow [Wednesday], and let's wait and see.  It's going to happen at 2 o'clock," he said. "I don't see any reason for anybody fabricating a case like that unless they want to put you into prison, pushing you through the judiciary system which, as we all know in Pussy Riot's and other cases, has nothing to do with justice."

The charges against Lebedev carry a seven-year sentence. Recently, the all-female punk rock band Pussy Riot was convicted of hooliganism after staging an anti-Putin performance in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral. The three members are now serving two years in a penal colony.  

Hooliganism is a widely expansive phrase in Russia that covers behavior that is not acceptable or specifically defined by law. Anyone can be charged with hooliganism.

Since Putin returned to the Kremlin in May, the fines for participating in and organizing unsanctioned protests have increased more than 150-fold, and the United States Agency for International Development has had to close its doors because the Kremlin believes it is funding the opposition.

The administration maintains that many of the latest developments regarding protests are meant to protect the average Russian from violence. Critics assert that it is just another way for the Kremlin to crack down on political dissent.

You May Like

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: ebenezer from: canada
September 27, 2012 1:36 PM
It became a fashion in Russia to for all these criminals to say all the time some political motivation. The new style in Russia is do some criminal activity if the government try to do justice then political motivation and something like Kremlin is behind it. If the Government just keeps quite then, again those same people will say government is promoting criminal thing is Russia.

For these very people the final resort is US, EU, UK. This guy Aleksandr Lebedev recently said he will complain to US, EU or UK against Russia. These people are living in Russia to rob that country. oligarch's are bad for Russia. They become rich robbing public money and they are the one who don't follow the rule of law or become dissidents. For whatever this investigation is going on it is not happened secret, it is public and everyone saw live what he did.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs