Lebedev called 'a tramp' by opponent as TV punch trial heats up

The trial of Russian media mogul Alexander Lebedev has taken a bizarre turn after the man he hit on live TV taunted him from a holiday hideout.

The Daily Mail reports that Sergei Polonsky, the property mogul who Lebedev struck during the 2011 altercation, labelled the Independent and Evening Standard proprietor a “chukhan” – a Russian word for tramp – and used another insult the Mail described as “loaded with sexual innuendo”.

Although Polonsky is not attending the trial as he is unable to leave Cambodia because he himself is awaiting trial on kidnapping charges, Lebedev tweeted that he had run away to Israel. “Are you scared,” Polonsky responded, before saying: “I’m going to get you.”

Lebedev, who has handed control of his UK newspapers to his son Evgeny, is facing up to five years imprisonment for “hooliganism motivated by political hatred”. He claims he is being persecuted because of his co-ownership of investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

The trial continues today, when Lebedev is expected to start calling defence witnesses. The tycoon has previously claimed he could call several celebrity witnesses to testify, including Keira Knightley, Stephen Fry and John Malkovich.

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