Alexander Lebedev

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Alexander Lebedev
Alexander Lebedev 2019.jpg
Lebedev in 2019
Alexander Yevgenievich Lebedev

(1959-12-16) 16 December 1959 (age 61)
Alma materMoscow State Institute of International Relations
Known forFormer KGB officer
Spouse(s)Natalia Sokolova
Partner(s)Elena Perminova (2005–present)
Children5, including Evgeny Lebedev
RelativesVladimir Sokolov (former father-in-law)

Alexander Yevgenievich Lebedev (Russian: Александр Евгеньевич Лебедев, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr jɪvˈɡʲenʲjɪvʲɪtɕ ˈlʲebʲɪdʲɪf]; born 16 December 1959) is a Russian businessman, and has been 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 $300 million.[1] 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.[2] He is part owner of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta[3] and owner of two UK newspapers with his son Evgeny Lebedev: the Evening Standard and The Independent.

Early life and education[edit]

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.[4]

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.[3] He worked for the KGB's successor, the Foreign Intelligence Service, until 1992.[4]

Business career[edit]

Lebedev with President of Russia Vladimir Putin on 7 May 2002

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.[5] 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.[4] In March 2006, Forbes estimates Lebedev's fortune as high as US$3.5 billion,[2] but as of July 2013 he dropped out of the billionaires list and is no longer a billionaire.[7]

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 (Национальная Ипотечная Компания), 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 publishing an article about Vladimir Putin having an affair with Alina Kabayeva.[8][9]

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 not to 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.[10] 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."[11]

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.[12] The offer was withdrawn after Liddle's putative appointment was opposed by the newspaper's staff and by a campaign online.[13][14] On 25 March 2010, Lebedev bought The Independent and Independent on Sunday for £1.[15]

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.[16]

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.[6]

In 2021, Lebedev launched a project in the industry of decentralized finance - a cryptocurrency platform branded "Independent Decentralized Finance SmartBank & Ecosystem" (InDeFi SmartBank).[17] [18][19]


In September 2011, while appearing on a Russian television programme, he punched a fellow guest, billionaire property developer Sergei Polonsky.[20] Lebedev claimed afterwards that he had reacted to Polonsky's threat of violence towards him.[21][22] Lebedev was later charged with disorderly conduct and sentenced to community service for that incident.[6][23]

Political career[edit]

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,[4] 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.[4]

Lebedev, together with the former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, is a co-owner of Novaya Gazeta, one of the most vocal newspapers critical of the current Russian Government.[24]

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.[4]

In September 2008, Russian politician Mikhail Gorbachev announced he was going to make a comeback to Russian politics along with Lebedev.[25] 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,[26] but a court ruling declared his candidacy invalid on 13 April 2009.[27] 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.[28]

Lebedev publicly supported the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.[29] 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".[29]

In 2019, he published a book titled Hunt the Banker: The Confessions of a Russian Ex-Oligarch.[30]

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.[31]


Lebedev has a long history of supporting culture and charity, and created an organization named Charitable Reserve Fund (Благотворительный Резервный Фонд, BRF) to bring order to these activities. Among the organizations and projects he (or BRF) have sponsored are:[4]

Lebedev was awarded the Saint Innokenty of Moscow Order by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Dialogue of Cultures medal by UNESCO.

Personal life[edit]

Lebedev's first wife was Natalia Sokolova, daughter of the scientist Vladimir Sokolov, with whom he has one child, Evgeny Lebedev. They separated in 1998.[32]

Since 2005, Lebedev's partner is Elena Perminova, a former model; some sources report they are married while others say they are engaged.[33][34] They have four children together, three sons and a daughter.[34][35]

Lebedev holds 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.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harding, Luke (24 October 2018). "Twilight of the oligarchs: Communism's collapse made them multi-billionaires, but now Russian capitalism is in trouble. Can their colossal fortunes survive the downturn, or is this the end of an era?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Alexander Lebedev". Forbes. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b Elliott, John; Ungoed-Thomas, Jon (7 January 2007). "Tycoon linked with Litvinenko 'survived poisoning'". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Archived item". Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2007.
  5. ^ Harding, Luke (11 January 2009). "Alexander Lebedev: an oligarch we could learn to love". The Observer. London. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  6. ^ a b c "Archived item". Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  7. ^ "Alexander Lebedev". Forbes. p. 9. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  8. ^ Jon Ungoed-Thomas and Marie Woolf "Oligarchs hire ‘do-nothing’ peers to boost their prestige", The Sunday Times, 29 November 2009
  9. ^ Putin denies romance reports, Moscow paper shut, by Reuters
  10. ^ "Ex-KGB spy buys UK paper for £1". BBC News. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  11. ^ Brook, Stephen; Sweney, Mark (21 January 2009). "Alexander Lebedev's Evening Standard takeover: Dacre announces sale to staff". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  12. ^ Sweney, Mark; Brook, Stephen (8 January 2010). "Rod Liddle lined up to edit Independent". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  13. ^ Greenslade, Roy (11 January 2010). "Independent faces revolt from staff and readers if Liddle becomes editor". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  14. ^ Brook, Stephen (19 February 2010). "Rod Liddle no longer in running for Independent editor". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  15. ^ "The Independent bought by Lebedev for £1". BBC News. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  16. ^ "НРБ продолжают покидать высокопоставленные сотрудники :: Экономика :: РБК". 22 December 2016. Archived from the original on 20 June 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Opinion: The technology behind cryptocurrencies can spark the innovations to help us shape a fairer world". The Independent. 1 July 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Russian Ex-Banker Lebedev Launches DeFi Business - CoinDesk". 23 April 2021. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  19. ^ "Opinion: The technology behind cryptocurrencies can spark the innovations to help us shape a fairer world". The Independent. 1 July 2021. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  20. ^ Alexandre Lebedev punches another CEO on Live Russian TV on YouTube
  21. ^ Siddique, Haroon (18 September 2011). "Alexander Lebedev in Russian TV punch-up". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  22. ^ "#962 Sergei Polonsky". Forbes. 5 March 2008.
  23. ^ "Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev charged over punch-up". BBC. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  24. ^ Peter Finn "Gorbachëv Invests in Newspaper", The Washington Post, 8 June 2006, p.A17
  25. ^ Blomfield, Adrian (29 September 2008). "Mikhail Gorbachev returns to Russian politics". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  26. ^ Lebedev Running For Sochi Mayor Sports Illustrated, 16 March 2009
  27. ^ Alexander Lebedev disqualified from Sochi mayoral race The Guardian (London), 13 April 2009
  28. ^ Тирмастэ, Мария-Луиза (14 April 2009). Александра Лебедева отослали переводом. Kommersant N66 (4121) (in Russian). Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  29. ^ a b c Johnson visit to Lebedev party after victory odd move for 'people's PM', The Guardian (24 December 2019)
  30. ^ Harding, Luke (9 September 2019). "Hunt the Banker: The Confessions of a Russian Ex-Oligarch by Alexander Lebedev – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  31. ^ Landler, Mark (4 August 2020). "New Nominations to U.K. House of Lords Raise Old Concerns of Cronyism". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  32. ^ "The Press Baron and His Son". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  33. ^ Pithers, Ellie (5 March 2013). "Who's that girl? Elena Perminova". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  34. ^ a b "34-летняя Елена Перминова объявила о своей четвертой беременности". (in Russian). 22 December 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  35. ^ "34-летняя Елена Перминова родила четвертого ребенка". (in Russian). 16 May 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.

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