MOSCOW, January 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russian investigators brought a new charge against billionaire businessman and Kremlin critic Alexander Lebedev on Thursday, in addition to the public disorder and battery charges he already faces in a case that could land him in prison for up to five years.
The new charge is “infliction of light bodily harm,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said, and refers to Lebedev’s public brawl with property developer Sergei Polonsky.
The investigation has been completed and the case is now ready to go to court, the committee said.
The first charges came last September, over a year after Lebedev punched Polonsky during the recording of a television program for the state-run channel NTV. Lebedev, a former KGB officer, knocked Polonsky to the ground during a debate.
Lebedev, 52, is co-owner of the opposition Novaya Gazeta newspaper and owner of the UK’s The Independent daily. He has also supported a scheme to raise funds for opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption project RosPil.
The show got particularly heated after Polonsky accused Lebedev of spreading a rumor about a crack in the Moskva-City skyscraper his firm was building.
Lebedev claimed he had to "neutralize" Polonsky because he feared 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 early January, Polonsky himself ended up at the center of a row in Cambodia, when he and two other Russians allegedly attacked local sailors during an outing late last month off the Cambodian coast. The sailors later dropped their charges.
The three men were arrested on December 31 and remain in Cambodian police custody. They face up to three years in prison if convicted. All have pleaded innocent.
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