News / Europe

Russian Tycoon Likens Trial to Political Witch-Hunt

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.
Reuters
Russian banker and media magnate Alexander Lebedev on Wednesday likened his trial for throwing a punch during a TV talk show to a political witch-hunt, and said the charge of hooliganism leveled against him was baseless.

The backer of Britain's Independent and London Evening Standard newspapers was charged in September with hooliganism motivated by religious, political, racial, ethnic or ideological hatred, and could be jailed for up to five years if convicted.

Lebedev said he would attend the first pre-trial hearing on Thursday into the 2011 incident, where he rose from his chair and threw a punch at property developer Sergei Polonsky.

Lebedev, whose fortune was put at $1.1 billion by Forbes magazine last year, has said he is being made a scapegoat for criticizing President Vladimir Putin.

"We have people like McCarthy at various echelons of the establishment including law enforcement agencies,'' he said on Wednesday. "This is the case where they fabricated an accusation built completely not on law.''

U.S. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy became infamous for launching investigations into claims that Communists had infiltrated the government. He held extensive hearings in 1953-54 attempting to uncover Communist sympathizers.

"The hooliganism accusation ... is based on nothing, on air, because how on earth could I have prepared a gross violation of public order based on political hatred to a person I'd never seen in my life,'' Lebedev told Reuters in a telephone interview. "It is completely baseless from a legal point of view; the accusation, it's empty.''

In a statement issued earlier this month, federal investigators said the criminal case against Lebedev had been sent to Moscow's Ostankino district court for trial.

"[He] beat Sergey Polonsky, his opponent in the program, two times in his head using a pretext of little significance,'' said the statement's official English translation. "Polonsky fell from a chair.''

The trial is expected to start in February and a verdict is likely in March or April, Lebedev said.

Asked whether he thought he had a chance of winning, Lebedev said by telephone: "Yes, I think so - I wouldn't exclude it.''

Russian authorities have arrested or charged a number of people critical of the Kremlin, including several opposition leaders such as anti-corruption blogger and protest leader Alexei Navalny.

"Let's say we want to get a firm acquittal, which is, we want to win the case,'' Lebedev said. "Of course we have to take into consideration that hooliganism is a serious accusation ... potentially facing five years in prison, and Russian courts are not very used to judges acquitting somebody.''

Preliminary hearings likely will be closed to the public.

Lebedev anticipated the case could go to appeal, then before the high court and could take nine or 10 months in total.

Lebedev's business interests in Russia include a bank and real estate assets; a stake in airline Aeroflot and a potato farm. He has said he is looking to sell his Russian assets because of pressure from the Kremlin.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has denied the Kremlin has attempted to put pressure on Lebedev or other wealthy Russians over their business interests.

In a separate incident, Polonsky was detained in Cambodia this month, accused of assault and illegal detention after an incident on a boat. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid