Alexander Lebedev: ‘I just want to be a journalist’

May 17, 2013

Within the first two minutes of Alexander Lebedev walking into the bar of the five-star Connaught hotel in Mayfair, London, he has discussed – in an intense, amused, leaning-forward monotone – an 11th-century “special prison for rich Russians” he has restored, and a friend who wants to stay there (“I said, “OK – commit something”); his son Evgeny’s birthday, which is to be held at his 17th-century palace in Perugia; the fact that the Daily Mail briefly mistook his photo for that of Amanda Berry’s kidnapper; a police visit to his potato farm; a prosecutor’s visit to the potato farm about “ecological violations”; the state of the potato crops; and finally the reason why he is only in London for a few days: his ongoing trial in Russia for standing up in a TV debate and punching one of his interlocutors. The next hearing is on Monday. If he is convicted, he could serve up to five years in prison.