Alexander Lebedev, the billionaire owner of the Independent and the London Evening Standard, has left a live TV audience stunned after punching billionaire property developer Sergei Polonsky.
The two men were appearing together on a Russian television talk show. They were there to discuss the global financial crisis when, according to Channel Four, Polonsky announced that “he was sick and tired of useless discussion about it with tycoons, and he would rather hit someone instead”.
A short clip of the incident has already appeared on YouTube. The footage shows Lebedev, a former KGB agent, in what appears to be a heated discussion with Polonsky. Lebedev gets out of his seat as if to confront Polonsky but sits down again. A moment later, Lebedev gets back out of his seat and lands two punches on Polonsky, knocking him out of his seat. The two men then stand there staring at each other for a moment and having a brief exchange of words while others step in to calm the two men.
Lebedev explained later that his actions had been in response to Polonsky’s “threatening manner”. The Guardian quotes Lebedev as saying:
"In a critical situation, there is no choice. I see no reason to be hit with the first shot. I neutralised him."
Polonsky is described as a "controversial billionaire" by BSR Russia and is said to be worth $4.35 billion.