Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev has described the charges of ‘hooliganism’ and assault by Russia’s Investigative Committee, which could see him face up to seven years in jail, as being politically motivated.
Lebedev, a partial owner of investigative Russian newspaper Novaya Gazete, and whose son Eygeny owns both The Independent and the London Evening Standard, was charged after he threw a punch at Russian property tycoon Sergei Polonsky during a televised debate.
Layer to Lebedev Genri Reznik told The Independent that the charges were ‘fabricated’ and described them as being motivated by ‘political revenge’.
He had been charged under Article 23 of the Russian Criminal code for ‘hooliganism’, the same as the punk rock group Pussy Riot.
In a statement, Eygeny said of the charges; "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."
Alexander Lebedev has insisted that he will stay in Russia to fight the charges.