Russian newspaper owner Alexander Lebedev is set to face trial in the coming weeks after Moscow prosecutors sent a case over alleged hooliganism to court.
“The trial should start in a few weeks,” Lebedev’s spokesman, Artem Artemov, said by phone today. Lebedev, 53, faces a maximum of five years in prison for punching Sergei Polonsky, a property developer, on a televised talk show in 2011. Lebedev denies any wrongdoing.
The former KGB agent, who served in the Soviet Embassy in London during the Cold War, has said his fortune has fallen to several hundred million dollars from $2 billion two years ago after he’s come under official pressure. Lebedev says he’s the subject of a three-year campaign in retaliation for funding Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper critical of President Vladimir Putin that investigates corruption. Lebedev also controls the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers in the U.K.
Polonsky, 40, is in detention in Cambodia after an incident in which and he and two other Russians allegedly threatened the crew of a boat with a knife. Polonsky denies the accusations.
The Cambodian sailors have dropped their claims about the attack after an agreement was reached on compensating them, an unidentified member of Polonsky’s defense team was cited as saying by the Russian state news service RIA Novosti.