Media

June 23, 2011 at 12:23

Lebedev: 'Putin Should Run Against Medvedev'

Lebedev: 'Putin Should Run Against Medvedev' uk.news.yahoo.com

Business tycoon Alexander Lebedev has told Sky News Russia's current leaders have "not always been good" for the country and should run against each other in the next presidential elections.

Mr Lebedev, who is currently campaigning against anti-corruption in Russia, said current prime minister Vladimir Putin and president Dmitry Medvedev should do so in the interests of "political competition".

Asked on Jeff Randall Live whether the pair had been good for Russia, he said: "No... Not always."

He added: "My position is very clear, I want them both to run against each other."

The Russian business tycoon is stepping up his battle against corruption in Russia and has announced that he is joining Vladimir Putin's People's Front.

It was established by Mr Putin as a public support structure around his United Russia party.

Speaking about corruption, he said: "Russia is a nation without a future, corruption is much worse than apartheid to a country.

"Half of the money is being pocketed by a small group of bureaucracy, and the other half is being completely mis-spent on, for example, sports facilities instead of affordable housing."

Mr Lebedev prospered in the chaotic Russian business world after the collapse of Communism and became a billionaire and a persistent critic of the Kremlin.

Now he is reported to be disposing of most of his business interests to concentrate on newspapers in Russia and the UK.

He owns the Independent and Independent On Sunday and launched the compact i newspaper selling for 20p.

Lebedev bought the London Evening Standard for £1 and has turned it into a free sheet.

In Russia he owns 20% of the airline Aeroflot and has interests in banks and energy companies.

When asked whether he is planning to sell his Russian assets as a result of corruption he said: "The main reason I would sell is because I want to concentrate on publishing newspapers."

Lebedev said he is focusing on his media business and even hinted towards The Independent becoming a free newspaper, like the Evening Standard.

He said: "I wouldn't fully reject the opportunity of i or Indy going free one day, though I think some of the competitors in the City would probably not be very happy with that."

Tags: Medvedev, Putin, The Evening Standard

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