Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB agent, was charged with hooliganism Wednesday, ostensibly for getting into a fight with a businessman on national TV, as The Washington Post’s Kathy Lally reported.
Lebedev had been funding a Russian opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, and the criminal charges against him come as Russian President Vladimir Putin has intensified his attacks on dissent.
In a video interview, Lebedev told Reuters that he had been “investigating fraud and corruption” for years in Russia and that the case is revenge for his attempts to expose corruption.
Hooliganism was also the charge levied against Pussy Riot, the feminist punk band that staged an anti-Putin concert in a Moscow church.
Foreign Policy explains why the Russian government refers to the charges against dissenters as “hooliganism.”:
“English-language readers might assume this is a weird translation in the western media, but huliganstvo comes right from the original Russian. The word has been featured in the New York Times' Russia coverage since at least 1905, when the infamous ultra-nationalist "Black Hundreds" were described as uligani.”