'Putin critic' Russian billionaire Lebedev charged with 'hooliganism' over TV punch-out

     Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev could be jailed for five years after being charged with 'hooliganism'. Lebedev, the Russian billionaire owner of The Independent and Evening Standard newspapers, was charged with "hooliganism motivated by political hatred" for punching a fellow guest on a television show. The hooliganism charge against Lebedev is the same as that under which three members of the Pussy Riot feminist punk band were jailed for two years last month, The Telegraph reports. According to the paper, the prosecution relates to an incident last September when Lebedev punched rich property developer Sergei Polonsky during the recording of a programme on Russia 's NTV channel, which related to the global financial crisis. The businessman was not arrested after the charges were announced and his spokesman said he refused to sign an order preventing him from leaving the capital, the paper said. Legal proceedings against Lebedev in Moscow came a day after the 52-year-old tycoon suggested President Vladimir Putin had endorsed an attempt to put him in prison in revenge for allegedly funding opposition groups.

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