MOSCOW, Sept 18 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
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)