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Lebedev found guilty of assault

A tycoon who financed a newspaper critical of the Kremlin has been found guilty of assault after punching a talk show guest and sentenced to 150 hours of community service.

Alexander Lebedev, who owns fierce Kremlin critic Novaya Gazeta as well as the Independent and Evening Standard titles in Britain, which are run by his son Evgeny, punched property developer Sergei Polonsky during a TV talk show in 2011.

Mr Lebedev dismissed the criminal case as politically motivated. Prosecutors dropped hooliganism charges against him that could have landed him in jail.

Mr Lebedev made his money in banking. He has said he was being forced to sell his assets because of pressure by Russia's Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor agency.

The charges refer to an incident when Mr Lebedev punched flamboyant tycoon Mr Polonsky during a TV discussion of the financial crisis, sending him tumbling to the ground. After the recording,Mr Polonsky complained he had sustained a hand injury and that his jeans were ripped.

Novaya Gazeta's relentless criticism of the Kremlin and its investigations into official corruption have put many of its journalists under fire. Four of its reporters have been killed since 2000, including Anna Politkovskaya, a critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya who was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building in 2006. Others have been harassed and attacked.

Mr Polonsky spent three months in jail in Cambodia this year for allegedly attacking the crew of a boat after a dispute erupted during a New Year's Eve outing.

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