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.
x
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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid