Russian media mogul Alexander Lebedev has been charged with hooliganism for punching a television show guest last year during a debate. If convicted, Mr Lebedev, who owns Britain Independent and Evening Standard newspapers faces seven years in prison.
Russia's top investigative agency said Lebedev cannot leave Moscow while the investigation is underway, The AP reports. In Russia, filing charges automatically means an investigation is starting. The investigation may or may not lead to a trial.
Lebedev commented that he considers the charges against him to be "politically motivated" and "completely made up."
The charges stem from an incident in which Lebedev allegedly punched and caused bodily harm to Sergei Polonsky when the two were taking part in the show NTVshniki, Al-Jazeera reports. The episode aired on September 16, 2011.
Mr. Lebedev claims he acted in self-defense as Polonsky was about to hit him, BBC News reports.
According to The AP, Mr Polonsky pointed at Lebedev saying "I just feel like whacking somebody in the face right now," but he did not mention Alexander Lebedev by name. Therefore self-defense doesn't apply in this case. The charges assert that Polonsky was not referring to anyone specific, and that Lebedev was simply motivated by "political hatred."
Lebedev claims, however, that when Polonsky spoke of hitting someone in the face, he asked, "Do you mean me?" and Polonsky yelled "Yes!," BBC News reports.
Alexander Lebedev co-owns Russian opposition Novoya Gazeta with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev,Al-Jazeera reports. Lebedev has written many articles mocking Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.
Lebedev's son Yevgeny tweeted that his father is "being targeted by people who don't like his stance against corruption, and hate Novoya, The AP reports.