The billionaire owner of the Evening Standard and The Independent, Alexander Lebedev, says he is divesting his business holdings to focus on his newspapers full time.
Lebedev, who also owns Moscow’s Novaya Gazeta, told the Financial Times (behind paywall) that he felt ‘being a billionaire was incompatible with his goal of championing investigative journalism and sapped his credibility as a serious critic of the status quo”.
According to Forbes Magazine, Lebedev is the 444th richest man in the Russia with an estimated fortune of $2.1bn. His business interests include agriculture, aircraft leasing, airlines, banking, real estate, and oil.
In the FT he is qouted as saying:
If I go and fight corruption, I should be taken off the Forbes list because who is going to believe me otherwise? I’ll do everything to cease being a shareholder in any of my businesses.
I will keep a hold of newspapers, and focus on newspapers and investigative journalism
Despite his long-standing opposition to the Putin regime, Lebedev has also announced that his Our Capital movement in Russia was joining the All-Russian National Front, a party created by Putin earlier this month.
Explaining his decision, which the FT said had mystified his associates, he told the newspaper:
They said that anybody can join and I’ve noticed that they said they will fight corruption. Since I think every other institution failed in this country, why not offer my good offices to them.