Putin critic Lebedev convicted but escapes jail

Russian billionaire Lebedev punches fellow TV guest

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Russian media magnate Alexander Lebedev, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, has been convicted of battery for punching a guest on a TV show.

Mr Lebedev, who owns two UK newspapers and a big stake in Russia's opposition paper Novaya Gazeta, was sentenced to 150 hours of community service.

He had previously expressed a fear he would be jailed, but the main charge against him, hooliganism, was dropped.

Mr Lebedev's lawyer said he would appeal against the verdict.

The lawyer, Genri Reznik, told BBC that Mr Lebedev would continue his activities, and would not be chased out of the country.

"The main hope of those who had initiated this case was [that Mr Lebedev would] leave Russia," he said.

Mr Lebedev had suggested his trial was an act of revenge by Mr Putin for his criticism of the government.

A former KGB agent, Mr Lebedev has built up a business empire that also spans banking, energy, aviation and hotels, and he is said to be worth some $1.1bn (£700m).

In the UK, he has financed the Independent and Evening Standard newspapers.

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