Alexander Lebedev was born to a family of Moscow intelligentsia. His father, Evgeny Nikolaevich Lebedev was a Professor of optical engineering at the Bauman Moscow Technical University and a retired athlete - a former member of the Soviet national water polo team. Alexander's mother, Maria Sergeyevna, after graduating from Moscow Pedagogic Institute worked in a rural Sakhalin school, then taught history and English in a Moscow tertiary school.
In 1977, Alexander Lebedev entered the Department of Economics at Moscow State Institute of International Relations. After his graduation in 1982, Lebedev started to work for the Institute of Economics of the World Socialist System doing research for his Ph.D. dissertation “The problems of foreign debt and the challenges of globalization”. However, he soon transferred to the First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence) of KGB. He worked there and at its successor - the Foreign Intelligence Service - until 1992.
After retirement as Lieutenant Colonel Lebedev established his first business: the Russian Investment-Finance Company. In 1995, the company bought a small and troubled National Reserve Bank (NRB) that soon grew to become one of the largest Russian banks.
The National Reserve Bank and Alfa Bank were the only two out of ten largest Russian banks that survived the 1998 Russian financial crisis.
Now it is in the top thirty of Russian banks, a steady and reliable Russian bank with 40 percent tier 1 capital ratio, enjoying the confidence of domestic and foreign investors.
NRB is part of the National Reserve Corporation (NRC) holding — a prominent Russian financial and industrial group with interests in Hi-Tech manufacturing and socially-oriented business rather than the simple exploitation of the country's natural resources.
In its investment policy the corporation aspires to support industries whose development favorably affects not only the economy, but also the people.
Among NRC’s assets are
- Second-largest (after the State) share of “Aeroflot” Airlines (20%),
- Aircraft leasing company “Ilyushin Finance Co.” (26%),
- Significant shares of “Gazprom” and other major Russian companies.
Alongside the NRB bank, the Holding includes the National Housing Corporation — the leading company in individual housing construction, and the National Land Company, which holds leading positions in potato farming . NRC’s airline company - Red Wings is the primary user of new domestic civil aircrafts — TU-204 which are manufactured by the Ulyanovsk “Aviastar-SP” plant. Affiliated structures are created in energy sector, telecommunications, construction, mortgage and insurance.
NRC is actively investing abroad. . It's assets include Switzerland's “Alpstream”, Ukraine's “Energobank” and “The European Insurance Alliance”; In Crimea NRC has constructed the largest resort complex on the peninsula - Spa-Hotel "More".
In 2003 Alexander Lebedev ran for mayor of Moscow and got 13% votes, which was considered rather successful. At the same time he ran for the Duma (Russian Parliament) and was elected member of Parliament
While serving as MP Mr. Lebedev became one of the most active legislators, who proposed numerous bills focused on:
- Increase of information openness and the responsibility of authorities,
- Formation of the market of accessible habitation and development of the Russian aviation industry,
- Reforming the judicial system and law enforcement bodies (regarding liquidation of an accusatory bias, reduction in administrative and financial pressure upon the Russian courts and law enforcement bodies of all levels, reforming the institute of cooperation with investigation, etc.),
- Reduction of privileges for officials of various levels,
- Prohibition of tobacco and alcohol sales to minors.
A.Lebedev is the author of the gambling prohibition bill.
In 2008 Alexander Lebedev returned to business, while still devoting a significant part of his time to public affairs.,He is the president of the National Investment Council, the International Institute of Global Development and the Center of Problems of Integration of the Institute of economy of the Russian Academy of Sciences. As the shareholder of the “Novaya Gazeta” newspaper A.Lebedev supports the edition in becoming a symbol of independent journalism in Russia Together with the newspaper's journalists and the “Memorial” Society he started the project of constructing a monument and museum complex in memory of the victims of Stalin’s GULAG by Ernst Neizvestny.In autumn of 2010 together with the former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev he had initiated the creation of the "Civil Dialogue" Forum, which accumulates civil initiatives and works towards creating a responsible civil society.
Alexander Lebedev considers free press as the key institute of a democratic society. Being the head of the “Novye Media” (New Media) holding and a stockholder of Novaya Gazeta he supports the newspaper that became a symbol of independent investigative journalism in Russia. Mr. Lebedev is also the publisher of The London Evening Standard, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday and “I”.
Alexander Lebedev conducts active charities, being the president of Charitable Reserve Foundation (CRF) and the founder of the International Raisa Gorbachev Foundation. Funds allocated by Lebedev financed the construction of the children's oncology clinic in Saint Petersburg - the largest one in Russia, provided treatment for children in the Russian oncology scientific centre in Moscow, purchased the medical equipment and provided the necessary training of Russian doctors in the leading clinics of the world.
Alexander Lebedev cooperates with Russian orthodox church and its humanitarian and cultural activities.. The CRF helps Svyato-Trotskaya Laurel, Sretensky Stavropigialny man's monastery, Svyato-Troitsky Serafimo-Diveevsky monastery, finances the restoration of Spaso-Yakovlevsky and Uspensky cathedrals of Rostov. In Malorechenskoe settlement near Alushta NRC financed the construction of a 65-meter temple-beacon of St. Nikolay Mirlikijsky — one of the best known sights of Crimea.
Due to Alexander Lebedev's support the Theatre and House-museum of Chekhov in Yalta had been restored, he supports the Peter Fomenko Theatre and Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre.
The charitable Reserve Fund together with the “New world” magazine established a literary prize named by Jury Kazakov. With the support of the CRF foundation a monument was constructed to honor the famous poet Osip Mandelshtam in Voronezh. CRF also acts on international projects directed at supporting and distributing the Russian language and culture outside Russia. Within the framework of this activity a center of Russian culture Chateau des Forgets was opened in Paris which is going to become a part of the “Russian houses in Europe” network in the future.
NRB financed restoration of the Alexander Suvorov monument in Swiss Alps and the monument "Sorrow" in London by sculptor Andrey Scherbakov commemorating Soviet soldiers who died during World War II.
For his social and charity activities Alexander Lebedev is awarded: a Russian medal “For merits before Fatherland” of II degree, a Ukrainian medal “For Merits” of III degree, a St. Innokenty award of the Russian Orthodox Church, a St. Vladimir award of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and a medal of UNESCO “Dialogue of cultures”.
A.Lebedev is Doctor of Economics. His dissertation is — “Financial Globalization in the context of the Global, Regional and National (Russian) development”.