Russian billionaire and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev has been charged with "hooliganism" a year after he assaulted a fellow guest on a television show, which he claimed was retribution from the Russian government for his political affiliations.
Lebedev claimed he was being targeted by Russian President Valdimir Putin for funding the political opposition, which he denied, adding him, erroneously or otherwise, to a growing list of dissident oligarchs the Russian government is trying to silence.
Lebedev, along with former Soviet Union Chairman and vocal Putin critic Mikhail Gorbachev, finances the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, known for its critical approach to Russian politics in contrast to the pro-Putin bias of state-controlled media outlets.
In 2005, former oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who had been highly critical of corruption within the Russian government, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment on charges of fraud and tax evasion, though the trial was highly criticized for its lack of due process. Human rights organization Amnesty International has designated Kordorkovsky a “prisoner of conscience.”
Hooliganism carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
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