Russian tycoon Lebedev punches talk show guest
MOSCOW, Sept 18
MOSCOW, Sept 18 (Reuters) - 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 a one-time billionaire who lost part of his fortune during the economic crisis, goaded 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?" Polonsky said.
Within seconds Lebedev, who owns British newspapers including The Evening Standard and The Independent, jumped up and punched Polonsky three times in the face, throwing Polonsky off his metal stool and sliding alongside the stage.
"I am in shock," a dazed Polonsky later told the show's anchor, who intervened in the brawl and held back a snarling 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.
Lebedev, 51, is a former Russian spy who made billions trading stocks and bonds after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. 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. (Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman)