Alexander Lebedev was sentenced to 150 hours’ community service on Tuesday after being found guilty of battery for punching a fellow businessman on television two years ago.
The financial backer of the Independent and Evening Standard avoided a 5-year prison sentence after prosecutors surprisingly dropped their demands that he be found guilty of ”hooliganism motivated by political hatred.”
A Moscow judge handed down an even more lenient sentence for battery than that demanded by prosecutors, who had been seeking “limits” to Lebedev’s freedom for 21 months, probation-style restrictions that would ban him from attending large gatherings.
Alexander said he would appeal. “You remember when Naomi Campbell attacked a policeman? She was probably guilty. I wasn’t,” he said, referring to the supermodel who pleaded guilty in 2008 to assaulting two police officers at Heathrow. “I was protecting myself against a dangerous hooligan,” he said.
The businessman was charged in September 2012, a year after he punched Sergei Polonsky, a real estate tycoon, during the filming of a heated TV chat show on the global financial crisis. The charges were brought after Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, publicly referred to the incident as an act of hooliganism.
The 53-year-old has insisted the charges were fabricated. He called on a list of famous backers, submitting character reports written by Elton, John Malkovich, and Hugh Grant begging the court for leniency.