Russian tycoon punches TV talk-show guest

Tycoon TV showdown over GFC

Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev strikes his opponent after being criticised during the pre-recording of a TV talk show.

Russian billionaire and British newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev hurled punches at a fellow Russian businessman during a television talk show, sending the property developer flying across the studio.

Sergei Polonsky, himself once a billionaire who lost part of his fortune during the economic crisis, goaded Mr Lebedev on the pre-recorded show, announcing that he would rather punch someone than discuss financial issues with oligarchs.

"Do you want to try it out?" Mr Polonsky said.

Within seconds Mr Lebedev, who owns British newspapers including The Evening Standard and The Independent, jumped up and punched Mr Polonsky three times in the face, knocking Mr Polonsky off his metal stool and causing him to slide alongside the stage.

"I am in shock," a dazed Mr Polonsky later told the show's anchor, who intervened in the brawl and held back a snarling Mr Lebedev.

A host on the show, called Crisis: The Russian Response, said the brawl was a sign of a worsening economic situation.

"If oligarchs are fighting, then it means things are not going well and the crisis a very worrying issue," said Yekaterina Gordeyeva, with a slight smile.

Mr Lebedev, 51, is a former Russian spy who made billions trading stocks and bonds after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Mr Polonsky was on the Forbes billionaires list in 2008 but was knocked off during the economic crisis, which hit Russia harder than many other emerging countries.


This article Russian tycoon punches TV talk-show guest was originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald.