Media magnate accused of battery allowed to go to London
MOSCOW, May 7 (RAPSI) - The Ostankinsky District Court has allowed businessman Alexander Lebedev, who has been accused of beating another businessman, Sergei Polonsky, to travel to London for several days, RAPSI reports from the courtroom on Tuesday.
The court has granted Lebedev's request to lift his travel restrictions after he said that he needed to go to London to attend another hearing.
The prosecutor read the indictment, but Lebedev took his time before pleading guilty or innocent. The next hearing is scheduled for May 20.
The initial charges of hooliganism and battery were made last September, over a year since Lebedev punched Polonsky during a TV program on the state-run NTV channel.
The scuffle ensued after Polonsky accused Lebedev of spreading a rumor about a crack in the Moskva-City skyscraper that his firm was building.
Lebedev, a former KGB officer, said he had to "neutralize" Polonsky because he feared that he was going to be hit first, and that Polonsky had been overly aggressive during the discussion. "In a critical situation, there is no choice. I see no reason to be hit with the first shot. I neutralized him," he wrote in his blog.
In January 2013, a new charge of "infliction of minor bodily harm" was brought against him. If convicted, Lebedev faces up to five years in jail.
Lebedev said in December that he had to travel abroad for 10 days for medical treatment and to attend to his properties outside Russia. In February, the defense lawyers challenged the travel restrictions imposed on him.
Lebedev, 52, is the co-owner of the opposition Novaya Gazeta newspaper and the owner of the UK's The Independent daily. He has also supported a program to raise funds for opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption project RosPil. He has made repeated claims of a campaign of persecution against his businesses in Russia by the government, a charge that the authorities deny.
In early January, Polonsky himself ended up in another fracas in Cambodia, when he and two other Russians allegedly attacked local sailors during an outing off the Cambodian coast. The sailors later dropped their charges.
The three men were arrested on Dec. 31 and remained in the custody of the Cambodian police.
On April 3, Polonsky was released from the Cambodian prison but restricted from leaving the country.