Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Jail Lebedev over Punch, Says Prosecutor

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Jail Lebedev over Punch, Says Prosecutor

Article excerpt

Byline: Will Stewart in Moscow

RUSSIAN prosecutors today asked a judge to lift the threat of jail for businessman Alexander Lebedev over punches thrown at a guest on a television chat show.

Mr Lebedev, 53, was charged with hooliganism motivated by "political hatred", but state prosecutor Nadezhda Ignatova today asked the judge to replace it with a lesser hooliganism charge. She also asked that Mr Lebedev be given a 21-month suspended sentence.

In a separate move, alleged victim Sergei Polonsky, 40, who is believed to be hiding from Russian justice in Israel, fired his lawyers by Facebook and called on the judge to acquit Mr Lebedev.

He claimed Mr Lebedev would not be able to stand jail and said he forgave him for his "psychiatric instability" in throwing the punches. His statement was not read in court but went viral on the internet.

The prosecutor cited Mr Lebedev's young family with Siberian-born model Elena Perminova, 26, for not pursuing the more serious charge, which could have seen him jailed for up to five years. …

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