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Newspaper magnate Lebedev: “I should be ready to go to jail”

July 19th, 2010Posted by in Editors' pick

He likes to eat papaya for breakfast, wants to set up an investigative journalism foundation and wakes up every morning prepared for arrest – welcome to the world of newspaper billionaire Alexander Lebedev.

Speaking to the Sunday Times for its ‘A Life in the Day’ feature, Lebedev, says his ownership of three British newspapers – the Evening Standard, Independent and Independent on Sunday – prompted some “absurd” suspicions at the start.

When I bought the Evening Standard and the two Independent titles, people thought I was some kind of Trojan horse for the Russian government. That’s absurd. I bought them because I truly believe in newspaper and a free press. An independent press that holds those in power to account is a vital part of a democratic society.

In fact he claims his “dream” now is to set up a foundation that will finance journalistic investigations into international corruption.

The free media can change the world. My idea is for some of the biggest titles around the world to pool resources to uncover the schemes and money flows used to sustain massive corruption.

But, he warns, life in the media elite is a risky business.

I sleep like a log and rarely dream. But as a big businessman in Russia who sees things differently from those in power, I tell myself every night and every morning that I should be ready to go to jail. The risk is always there.

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