Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Newspaper boss in corruption pledge

Evgeny Lebedev (left) and Boris Johnson, the newspaper boss has vowed to expose corruption in Russia

A former KGB officer turned UK newspaper boss has promised to help journalists in Russia and elsewhere expose "corruption on a global scale" despite reported threats to his life.

Alexander Lebedev suspects anger over his battle against corruption was behind a recent raid on his National Reserve Bank in Moscow, and he has described threats on his life.

But the billionaire pointed to a reported $300 billion-a-year in Russian bribery as he said he wanted to target "bank accounts held by shady people in sunny places".

Mr Lebedev, owner of The Independent and London's Evening Standard as well as a Russian newspaper group, was speaking at the annual conference of the Society of Editors in Glasgow.

Russian journalist Oleg Kashin was beaten almost to death last weekend by two men armed with iron bars who waited for him outside the central Moscow block of flats where he lives

And campaigners say there have been 19 unsolved killings of reporters in the country since 2000.

"I want to invest further in ways to stop corruption on a global scale," Mr Lebedev said.

"The millions of bank accounts held by shady people in sunny places are not the right way for our countries to run their economies.

"We need transparency and for the international community of journalists to be able to work together to report on the billions of dollars that are hidden and often stolen.

"Russians pay bribes totalling $300 billion a year, equivalent to almost a quarter of Russia's gross domestic product, according to Kirill Kabanov, head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee."

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