Alexander Lebedev, billionaire tycoon, charged with punching guest on TV show (VIDEO)


Alexander Lebedev: To whom does he pray?



Russian billionaire tycoon Alexander Lebedev has been charged with hooliganism after punching a fellow guest during a TV debate last year.

Lebedev, 52, owns Britain's The Independent and London's Evening Standard newspapers, as well as a Russian bank and opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, according to BBC News. Last September, he knocked former real estate businessman Sergei Polonsky off his chair during a heated televised debate.

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The media mogul, whose net worth was put at $1.1 billion by Forbes magazine in March, has also been ordered by Russia's Investigative Committee not to leave the country, but he refused to sign a form limiting his travel, citing legal rights, reported Reuters. He claims he is being punished for criticizing the Kremlin and that his arrest is part of the crackdown on dissent since Putin's return to the presidency in May.

Lebedev faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, noted the Associated Press. The tycoon has been charged with hooliganism motivated by religious, political, racial, ethnic or ideological hatred, the same charges faced by the three members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot, who were sentenced to two years each last month after performing a "punk prayer" against Putin in Moscow's main cathedral.

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The punch in question happened during the show NTVshniki on September 16, 2011, reported BBC. Lebedev said afterward that Polonsky was about to hit him and that he acted in self-defense.