Aeroflot is ready to buy out embattled Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev’s stake in the flagship airline, if he is willing to sell it, a high-placed source in Aeroflot said on Wednesday.
“The talks with Lebedev are not ongoing but if he offers to buy out his remaining share package, and this is about 14 percent, we’ll repurchase it,” the source said.
Lebedev who has financed a newspaper critical of the Kremlin and supported the opposition, confirmed plans in early August to sell all his assets in Russia and retire, to fend off what he called “relentless pressure from the authorities.”
In a letter sent by the owner of National Reserve Corporation to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy-Premier Dmitry Rogozin and Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov on August 8, Lebedev asked the government to repurchase his stake in Aeroflot.
Transportation Minister Maksim Sokolov said at that time the government was not so far considering repurchase Lebedev’s stake in Aeroflot.
Lebedev is co-owner of the opposition Novaya Gazeta newspaper and owner of the U.K’s The Independent daily. His Moscow-based bank has also supported a scheme to raise funds for opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption project RosPil.
He was charged with “a politically motivated grave violation of public order” on September 26, over an incident in which he punched property developer Sergei Polonsky last year during the recording of a television program for the state-run television channel NTV.