Europe

Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev 'expects jail' over punch-up

  • 25 November 2012
  • From the section Europe

Russian media mogul Alexander Lebedev thinks he "probably will" be jailed in Russia over a punch-up live on TV last year, his son has told the BBC.

Evgeny Lebedev said he feared his father could be killed in jail because of his anti-corruption campaign.

Alexander Lebedev owns two UK newspapers and holds a major stake in Russia's opposition Novaya Gazeta.

Mr Lebedev is a critic of President Vladimir Putin. Moscow denies it is behind the criminal case against him.

If convicted for knocking another businessman off his chair during a heated TV debate in September 2011, Mr Lebedev faces up to seven years in prison.

He is the owner of Britain's Evening Standard and the Independent newspapers.

'Easy place'

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Evgeny Lebedev said his father could be murdered in prison by "some sinister elements that he's crossed in the past with his anti-corruption campaign".

"We believe there's been a contract taken out on his head," Mr Lebedev said.

"I really hope the government in Russia would pay attention to this because if something happens to him, of course, they would be the ones to blame even if they don't have anything do to with it," he added.

He described prisons in Russia as "an easy place for somebody to be taken out".

In September, Alexander Lebedev was charged with hooliganism and assault "motivated by political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred, or hatred of a particular social group" - the same offence that two members of Russia's Pussy Riot punk group were jailed for earlier this year.

The 52-year-old former KGB agent - whose net worth was recently reported by Forbes magazine to be $1.1bn (£680m) - has reportedly signed an undertaking not to leave Russia.

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