Tycoon Lebedev charged with assault26/09/2012 - 17:35:39
Russia’s top investigative agency has filed criminal charges against tycoon and British newspaper backer Alexander Lebedev.
Mr Lebedev’s holdings also include a Russian newspaper critical of the Kremlin.
The State Investigative Committee said that it charged Mr Lebedev with hooliganism and assault over a TV show incident in which he punched another businessman.
Mr Lebedev, whose net worth was reported by Forbes magazine to be 1.1 billion dollars, made his money in the banking industry and owns a stake in Russian flag carrier Aeroflot as well as his own Red Wings airline. He has financed Novaya Gazeta, which is fiercely critical of the Kremlin, and Britain’s Independent, Independent on Sunday, “i” newspaper and the Evening Standard.
Mr Lebedev said last month that he was forced to sell his assets because of pressure by the Russian security agency.
His son Evgeny, owner of the British newspapers said: “This is an extraordinarily disproportionate response to what happened in a TV studio many months ago.
“My father has been targeted because of his determination to fight against corruption and to be a crusader for democracy in a country where this has not always been welcome.
“My father has spent his life trying to promote freedom of expression and justice in his fight against corruption in Russia.
I hope that common sense prevails and that these excessive charges are dropped. I really hope that this does not presage a new phase of crackdowns on those who speak out against injustice.“
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