Lebedev in 2019
Alexander Yevgenievich Lebedev
16 December 1959
|Alma mater||Moscow State Institute of International Relations|
|Known for||Former KGB officer|
|Elena Perminova (2005-present)|
|Children||4, including Evgeny Lebedev|
|Relatives||Vladimir Sokolov (former father-in-law)|
Alexander Yevgenievich Lebedev (Russian: ? ?, IPA: [?l'ksandr j?v'en?j?vt? 'l?ebdf]; born 16 December 1959) is a Russian businessman, previously referred to as one of the Russian oligarchs. Until 1992, he was an officer in the First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence) of the Soviet Union?s KGB and later one of the KGB's successor-agencies, Russia?s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
In early 2008, he was one of the golden 100 top Russian billionaires, listed as the 39th richest Russian, and worth an estimated US$3.1 billion by Forbes magazine, but by October 2008 he was worth only $300 million. In March 2012, he was listed by Forbes as one of the richest Russians with an estimated fortune of US$1.1 billion. His fortune has since declined, and he is no longer considered to be a billionaire. He is part owner of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and owner of two UK newspapers with his son Evgeny Lebedev: the Evening Standard and The Independent.
Alexander Lebedev was born in Moscow. His parents were part of the Moscow intelligentsia. His father, Yevgeny Nikolaevich Lebedev, was an elite athlete-a member of the Soviet national water polo team, and later a professor at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Moscow's highest technical school. After graduating from Moscow Pedagogic Institute, Alexander's mother, Maria Sergeyevna, worked in a rural Sakhalin school and later taught English in a Moscow tertiary school.
In 1977, Alexander Lebedev entered the Department of Economics at Moscow State Institute of International Relations. After he graduated in 1982, Lebedev began working at the Institute of Economics of the World Socialist System doing research for his Kandidat (between master's degree and doctorate) dissertation, The problems of debt and the challenges of globalization. He transferred to the First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence) of KGB. According to The Sunday Times, as a KGB spy, he was based at the Soviet embassy in London from 1988. He worked for the KGB's successor, the Foreign Intelligence Service, until 1992.
Upon leaving the Russian intelligence community, Lebedev set up his first company, the Russian Investment-Finance Company. In 1995 this bought the National Reserve Bank, a small Russian bank which was in trouble at the time. The bank subsequently grew rapidly to become one of Russia's largest banks. Among the bank's assets are:
The bank is the core of the group of companies holding National Reserve Corporation, that according to Lebedev's personal site owns around US$2 billion of assets. In March 2006, Forbes estimates Lebedev's fortune as high as US$3.5 billion, but as of July 2013 he dropped out of the billionaires list and is no longer considered to be a billionaire.
The National Reserve Corporation included the National Land Company (the biggest potato producer in Russia), National Housing Corporation (construction of affordable houses), National Mortgage Company ( ), as well as interests in textiles, telecommunications, trams and trolleybuses, electrical power, chemical and tourist industries owning a large hotel network in Crimea and plan to create the National Reserve Park that will manage diverse tourist enterprises in Russia, Ukraine and France.
Lebedev used to own the Moskovski Korrespondent, but according to Channel 4's Dispatches programme, Lebedev closed it down "for political reasons after it published a spurious article about Vladimir Putin having an affair with an Olympic gymnast half his age".
On 21 January 2009, Lebedev and his company Evening Press Corporation, part of Lebedev Holdings, bought approximately a 75.1% of share in the Evening Standard newspaper for £1. The previous owners, the Daily Mail and General Trust, continue to hold 24.9% in the company in the new firm, named Evening Standard Ltd. Lebedev promised to not interfere with the editorial running of the paper. Lebedev commented that during his time as a spy in London, he used the Evening Standard to find information.Paul Dacre, the editor-in-chief of the Evening Standard at the time of the sale said: "It's a very sad day for the paper, it's a very sad day for the Rothermeres. We are very sorry that it leaked out, we had no control over that. Everyone's been working very hard and there's a lot of hope for the future of the Evening Standard."
In 2009, he entered into exclusive negotiations with Independent News & Media to buy the company's British national newspapers, The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. Before the purchase was completed, his representatives offered the editorship of The Independent to Rod Liddle, former editor of BBC Radio 4's Today Programme. The offer was withdrawn after Liddle's putative appointment was opposed by the newspaper's staff and by a campaign online. On 25 March 2010, Lebedev bought The Independent and Independent on Sunday for £1.
In 2012, National Reserve Bank (NRB) faced difficulties: corporate deposits decreased by 2.2bn rubles, retail deposits by 1.2bn rubles. 20% of the bank's liabilities had run off by the end of January 2012. In March 2012, two top managers left the bank.
On 5 November 2012, Lebedev announced he would close all the regional offices of the National Reserve Bank and sell off the real estate as well as 75% of the bank's loan portfolio, worth 16.8bn rubles ($542m). Also in November 2012, Lebedev announced that he is selling off his assets in Russia.
In September 2011, while appearing on a Russian television programme, he punched a fellow guest, billionaire property developer Sergei Polonsky. Lebedev claimed afterwards that he had reacted to Polonsky's threat of violence towards him. Lebedev was later charged with disorderly conduct and sentenced to community service for that incident.
In 2003, Lebedev stood as a candidate for elections to the Mayoralty of Moscow and the State Duma. He received 13% in the Mayoral elections, losing to Yuriy Luzhkov, but won a seat in the State Duma on the Rodina party list (he was actually number one on the Moscow regional list of the party). He remained in the Duma until 2007, when new elections were held. In the Duma, he initially moved from nationalist Rodina to the pro-Government United Russia fraction, but after Rodina was merged into the larger social-democratic coalition Fair Russia, he made his return.
Lebedev was formerly the Vice Chairman of Duma's committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States, the coordinator of Duma's group on interactions with Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and the coordinator of the State Duma group dealing with the city.
Lebedev, together with the former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, is the owner of 49% of Novaya Gazeta, one of the most vocal newspapers critical of the current Russian Government.
After the assassination of a prominent Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Lebedev praised in print the talents of Politkovskaya and suggested her assassins were actually trying to target the good names of her opponents. He pledged 25 million Russian rubles (around US$1 million) for the information leading to the arrest of the assassins.
Lebedev is a founder and the President of the National Investment Council, a non-political and non-government organization working to improve the investment sentiments in Russia, protecting interests of the Russian business abroad, and fighting the negative sentiments towards Russian business.
In September 2008, Russian politician Mikhail Gorbachev announced he was going to make a comeback to Russian politics along with Lebedev. Their party was called the Independent Democratic Party of Russia.
In March 2009, Lebedev announced that he would be running for mayor of Sochi, host of the 2014 Winter Olympics, but a court ruling declared his candidacy invalid on 13 April 2009. The court ruling was a result of a complaint by another candidate, Vladimir Turukhanovsky, that Lebedev's campaign received three donations from minors that is forbidden by Russian electoral law. According to the chief of Lebedev's electoral campaign, Artyom Artyomov, the three teenagers were led to Sberbank by a staff member of the Sochi council, given 500 rubles each (approximately $20), and told to donate the money to Lebedev's campaign. His campaigners sent the money back the same day it was received but still it was found sufficient to disqualify his candidacy. Lebedev said that he intended to appeal the court's decision.
Lebedev publicly supported the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea. In 2017 he held a media symposium in his hotel complex in Alushta, Crimea (so he claimed) "to correct an impression of Crimea put out by a biased western media".
In 2019, he published a book titled Hunt the Banker: The Confessions of a Russian Ex-Oligarch.
Lebedev was described by The New York Times as an oligarch as recently as 2020, when his son Evgeny was nominated for a life peerage by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but as one who owns Novaya Gazeta, a liberal-leaning newspaper disliked by the Kremlin.
Lebedev has a long history of supporting culture and charity, and created an organization named Charitable Reserve Fund ( ?, BRF) to bring order to these activities. Among the organizations and projects he (or BRF) have sponsored are:
Since 2005, Lebedev's partner is Elena Perminova, a former model; some sources report they are married while others say they are engaged. They have three children together, two sons and a daughter. In December 2020, Perminova announced that they are expecting their fourth child together, Lebedev's fifth.
Lebedev is known for holding lavish social events with guests ranging from celebrities like Mick Jagger, Eddie Izzard, Ian McKellen, Keira Knightley, Joan Collins and Ralph Fiennes to royalty Princess Eugenie and politicians like the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.