Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev quit his job at the Independent shortly after being placed under economic sanctions by Canada for “directly enabling” Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The move means the former KGB agent no longer has an official role with the British media, a move that could shield the Independent from any sanctions-related issues.
Last week, Canada named Lebedev to a list of 14 people who “directly enabled Vladimir Putin’s senseless war in Ukraine and bear responsibility for the pain and suffering of the Ukrainian people.” Canadian individuals and companies are now prohibited from doing business with it and related entities.
The 62-year-old Russian bought the Independent for £1 in 2010, having taken over London’s Evening Standard for the same sum the year before. He then handed over control of the publications to his son Evgeny – a friend of Boris Johnson who was recently given a seat in the House of Lords by the Prime Minister, despite concerns from the security services. Both outlets have since racked up huge losses, while giving the Lebedevs some clout in British society.
Company filings show Alexander Lebedev resigned as a director of Independent Print Ltd on Sunday, the day after it was publicly announced that he was on Canada’s sanctions list. The company is part of the network of companies involved in the ownership of the Independent and the Evening Standard.
A spokesman for the newspapers played down the significance of the elder Lebedev’s resignation from the board, insisting he had not been actively involved in the company. They said: “Alexander Lebedev has no role, commercial or otherwise, in the management of the Independent or the Evening Standard.”
Alexander Lebedev rose to prominence as a banker in 1990s Russia before funding opposition outlet Novaya Gazeta. His wife, Elena Perminova, 35, continued to post updates on her widely followed Instagram account about fashion launches, with recent photos showing the family vacationing in Istanbul.
The move to put Alexander Lebedev on the sanctions list has renewed scrutiny of the prime minister’s decision to award his 42-year-old son a peerage. The government has so far failed to comply with a House of Commons instruction to release information about the decision to make Yevgeny Lebedev a peer, arguing it would breach the confidentiality of upper house appointees of parliament and could degenerate into a “political point”. rating”.
Cabinet Minister Michael Ellis told parliament he did not believe it was in the ‘public interest’ to publish the correspondence relating to the decision, adding: ‘Lord Lebedev is a man of good repute’ .
The ownership of the Independent and Evening Standard has long been a source of intrigue. Since taking control of the Independent and the Evening Standard from his father, Evgeny Lebedev has sold minority stakes in the outlets to a bank with close ties to the Saudi state.