The Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev may pride himself on not interfering with the editorial policy of his UK newspapers, the Independent and Evening Standard, but there was no sign of such restraint when he took exception to the words of a fellow guest on Russian television.
Clad in very tight grey jeans, Lebedev showed a glimpse of his past as a KGB agent as he launched two blows at the former property developer Sergei Polonsky during a television debate on the financial crisis. Polonsky, once ranked Russia‘s 40th richest man, had said he wanted to “stick one in the mouth” of Lebedev. In the clip posted on the NTV channel’s website, Polonsky was sent tumbling to the floor and Lebedev then stood over him in a crouched fighting stance.
The newspaper baron said later that he had been reacting to Polonsky’s threatening manner. The colourful proprietor was quoted as saying: “In a critical situation, there is no choice. I see no reason to be hit with the first shot. I neutralised him.”
Polonsky later posted photographs online showing a cut on his arm and a tear in his trousers.