Alexander Lebedev: 'Talk that I am Trojan horse for Russian government is absurd'

Fascinating “Day in the Life” interview with billionare newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev in yesterday’s Sunday Times Magazine (paywall protected).

Saying that he made his money from trading everything from shoes to barbed wire after the fall of the Soviety Union, and then moving into secondary debt markets, the former KGB man says: “All this talk of ‘God knows how he made his billions’ is rubbish.

“When I bought the Evening Standard and the two Independent titles, people thought I was some sort of Trojan horse for the Russian government. That’s absurd. I bought them because I truly believe in newspapers and a free press. An independent press that holds those in power to account is a vital part of a democratic society.”

He adds: “My dream is to set up a foundation to finance journalistic investigations into international corruption. The free media can change the world. My idea is for some of the biggest titles around the world to pool resources to uncover the schemes and money flows used to sustain massive corruption. The results would be presented to the G8. That would force governments to act. We need transparency and accountability.”

Moscow based Lebedev also says: “As a big businessman in Russia who sees things differently from those in power, I tell myself every night and every morning that I should be ready to go to jail. The risk is always there.”

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