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Read this: Why are Russian oligarchs only now in the press spotlight?

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Why are Russian oligarchs only now in th…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 race to sanction associates of radomir Putin the British Media is turning its attention to the role Russian oligarch have played in public Life this week in addition of Panorama about the source of Roman Abramovich is wealth at the weekend the Sunday Times reported that newspaper owner Evgeny lebedev was made a peer despite the concerns of the security services and the gossip sites are all over the gilded lifestyles of the oligarch kids and their swanky homes around the world, but why is it only now that the mainstream press has put the oligarch in the spotlight? What stop them before just some big questions for my guests today Poole caravan again.

The journalist behind a new podcast for tortoise Media called leopard lord of Siberia Adam bienkov is political editor at the byline.

Lawyer aesthetic correspondente politico Natalia and talava is a journalist and co-founder of the new site code a story and Lionel barber was editor of the Financial Times 2005 to 2020 he's now an investor in the new European and line or last time you on the media show you had just been to meet ladner Putin for an interview.

What chance today.

Do you think that to get an Audience with the president extremely limited under 1% may be in 7 weeks if this is over and they might do something a staged event but one-on-one like the Financial Times didn't 2019 very unlikely by the way did take 5 years to get to the Kremlin for the Post midnight meeting and when you did get there.

What did you talk about? We talked about everything from The Failed assassination of assassination of which he dismissed?

The story with less than 5 kopeks to the relation to China the intervention in Syria and notably stories that came out one worse when he declared under questioning the idea that liberalism obsolete so he really felt the west in decline decadent preoccupied by secondary questions of gender fluidity and also said that my is risk appetite has gone up basically because he said quite a Russian proverb does not get to drink the champagne.

Do you recognise the man you see now? Do you think he's changed by the way looks to put on a bit of weight and obviously the effects of two years isolation.

Circle area and I can exclusively reveal the when Henry and I did sit down with him in the table was a good shorter than the one is currently you weren't right at the other end of a long table then you were closest to the great Catherine the Great and Nicholas OK well.

Let's talk loads of the home because the Sunday Times this weekend round a story questioning why the editor of The Evening Standard Evgeny lebedev, not a household name by any means I should say seem to have such a good that's good access to Boris Johnson Paul Carolina Galaxy have explored this question to for tortoise Media take us back to the beginning.

I mean in 2009 the businessman and former KGB agent Alexander lebedev, bought the London Evening Standard for £1 is Son of Jenny became the papers publisher a year later.

They bought the Independent Auto for £1 just tell us a bit.

do we release the podcast on the Monday before the Sunday Times for loaded and it was commission actually in December and I thought it would be this really colourful profile of us and his father Alexander and really how they use the newspapers to build a celebrity speaker from the theatre wireless in-ear Randy Rhoads politician Boris Johnson and it was a kind of woman can influence that they ran from these newspapers and through their parties, but of course the you know the reporting change character in when when Russia invaded Ukraine so we started looking more closely at other aspects of the leopardos when it comes to the owning of

Independent evening Standard Mr Alexander already owned various bits the meteor in Russia I think you're as did some other organs is that more than just a business decision and how did you read the way they then brought into the British Media business so kind of strategies survival for all you need more than well.

You need some means of buying influence and promoting yourself really as a liberal or Western leaning figure which is a lot a lot of the ally-ally-oh in Russia Alexander bought a lot of employees in 2008 and reported allegations.

Everything was having an affair with the young gymnast and within a few days the tablet was was shut down and it was.

Within a couple of weeks of that's not Alexander and I've started the process to buy the evening Standard so when we reported on that you know the openness of the British establishment in which week in a recount the press 240 money so the Den owner of the newspaper Lord Rothermere was looking because it was a loss-making Enterprise and I think it's also significant that the deal was set up by by another newspaper and then went on to the newspaper story about how closely bound up a lot of these people are with the oligarchy for byline times on today called The Johnson lebedev letters, what did what? Did you find my First Years Ago in two thousand?

When I spotted on the Mayor of London giving hospitality register, then he declared a trip to Italy painful by 11.

It wasn't it wasn't in any way, but it wasn't really picked up by anyone else is fine even when it's a later appeared this was an annual Enterprise use an even several years after that when we learnt about this trip in 2018 to the Digital security detail and attempt this party and it wasn't all of the correspondence between with the formal correspondence between them right back from the start of their relationship in 2009 up until when he left office as Mayor of London and it's just it's

What was the nuts and bolts of how this could have influenced operation works so and it works both ways so be buying the that's the only pay for really covering the London Marathon and Boris Johnson he needs to have a good relationship with the letters show how he munchies and Johnson kissing aide memoire of all of his pet products that you would like you said that he be thrilled to get the support of of lemonade for these projects but also if the other way, so what time are the correspondence adaptive is pushing Johnson to pack a new arts festival should be held and organised by 11 EV and the purpose of this this festival grandstand minister.

Been released as well.

That's it is to transform Russia's global perceptions in London and what's interesting about interesting about it, is that in these minutes.

Going to reach out to the Kremlin to secure funding for it.

So it's sort of channel to the Russian government.

There's off there.

Let me just do you have any response to all of this evening Standard this week here? I'm not a security rest of this country which I love my father a long time ago was a foreign intelligence agent of the KGB but I'm not some agent of Russia the editorial coverage standard me independent of a channel to a shareholder of Russia and its activities over the time of my involvement in those titles makes that clear and then he obviously as well.

I've called on President Putin 2nd inversion of the country that Ukraine in the most public way possible.

I just wanted to bring your missus is now a sitting in the House of Lords Sunday Times this week alleged that he was deemed a security risk during the process but the Boris Johnson disagreed with this analysis.

I think you've been trying to find out exactly what happened.

That's Road so good so we know knots.

Really just a few weeks within Boris Johnson being elected Prime Minister in December 2019 he decided to make Afghani a member of the person in nomination and we know true documents.

We got the House of Lords appointments Commission semi-independent was chasing me for some personal information that kind of stuff they routinely Oscar nominees the difference in a case is that the they turn to the security services for advice and it was earlier on the 17th of March they finally got that advice and they met to discuss it in a committee room in parliament and we're so disturbed by a day immediately Road to the Prime Minister

Uncomfortable about this nomination about nomination.

Will you please reconsider or would you consider an alternative which they propose becoming at appear so and a few days after that Boris Johnson you know the long and short of it.

Push his name through this.

See you later than here.

Just for your response all of that but also you know you would have watched the entrance of the lemonheads into British medium and High Society what did you make about the time and how do you reflect on it now? I'd lunch with me when he asked me about what you should be doing both as a proprietor and what he could do with the evening Standard which has been said was lost making and also met the father-in-law.

In 2008 where he was very much the man in jeans with the very expensive leather shoes nothing wrong with that but you could feel the ex-kgb we need to be clear about a few things here and I'm not reporting contacts.

Please first of all I mean proprietors.

That's what they do they want to enjoy themselves with the establishment and they often get even editors get my quads and various on the prime minister's used patronage Johnsons of the festival.

I'm not surprised he wanted to give him a peerage and particularly have done.

It was very proud of the work.

There is the money they raise for the rise of Gorbachev cancer foundation in the evening Standard Newsroom despises, Gorbachev

He is his double choc is the man who helped the collapse the Soviet Union ending Russia as a great park.

So it's a strange thing to have that kind of close relation now 3rd.

I would George distinction between the father and the son the sun always trust me.

It's a bit of a hedonist.

I mean I didn't go by the way Casey I just like to say I just think we need to be careful about adopting a kind of McCarthy attitude to all Russians and also understand but who else was going to buy do we have a fit and proper test I mean newspapers are not football club the leopardess putting money and from what I could tell and I have had conversation.

He did not feel the heavy hands of you have Jenny leather on his shoulder when he was making editorial decisions and he said that you need to look very clearly now.

Just one of the point about the intelligence services the Sunday Times that was great reporting made a big deal with the fact that John Soares who was the boss of MI6 had raised objections to get my leather attending the editor.

Do you know something I went to lunches MI6 MI5 that once a year I would never dreamt of bringing the proprietor because you don't want journalist and I'm sure that sorted so I do know I'm not asking would have thought I'm the one who's making the decisions about who comes to my lunch and

That was why he didn't want to have not that.

He thought he was some kind of Lord Haw-Haw in Disguise on the programme today, but not heard back about our invitation to someone who has worked with him is Natalya and labour who he made a film for BBC Newsnight back in 2012 when you were accompanied with the level of to use for an interview with president lucashenko that Mr Leather David secured for the Independent I wondered what it was like.

Polished and very underwhelming I would say he came across as the sun.

I didn't hang out with him.

We had one meeting I had of time and we wouldn't start off very well because news Nike approach news now, and it was very much part.

I think of his transformation from a party boy into a into a series figure in the British Public life so he approach Newsnight with a suggestion for a collaboration and they rang me up and said I would like to do a full head secured an incredible exclusive with the Europe's last dictator at the belarusian president who was that it was completely inappropriate for you know I have no interest in doing a collaboration with you because you was the sun.

And another KGB agent, I think it's very disputed whether there is such a thing as a former KGB agent famous press conferences once I spy always that's why he said that to Edward Snowden so whether or not that's a father not the sun we talking about it's on right now, but at the same time you know what was happening with the Independent at the same time.

He had just taken over and it was very clear that was about his reputational kind of him trying to come across as a different kind of figure and I knew that he had gone to Central African Republic on the reporting Trevor and here.

It was going on this reporting jobs and independent.

Let me just let me just to say that would be good to hear a clip from it which we have here a clip from a celebrity talking about his expectations.

Things about this is he I don't really have no idea how I will go.

I think it's the first one that I've done when I really do not know what to expect but apparently according to press secretary is up for a fight earlier.

He was the boss of The Independent it wasn't a journalist.

I wondered what you made him in that situation interview question example the most bizarre moments of the interview was when he turns to look at it said, what do you think about group sex and that on the radio that was a long awkward pause and lucashenko have gestured me and asked me to move into into the shop because the jail you know the deal.

We weren't.

Newsnight ended up doing the story about Led Zeppelin rather than the story with that's really important to emphasise that the interview I suppose you along for the ride to film The you know getting that interview him getting an interview.

I suppose we will move on from there and move away from him back to that question that I asked at the start of the show about why is only now that we're reading investigations into Russian influence in the UK and I'm thinking particular about Roman Abramovich and what we learning now Lionel barber about the legal perils of writing about the oligarch.

So I assume you do you have the risk of litigation from London's top law firms suppressed reporting about them until now.

Do you think well? I'm not carrying water Katie for the ft.

But I can assure you that we did write about Russian influence in London and I still have the letters from the law firms.

And you know this was literally boots hang up by my boots on Saturday morning and the reason you know this was used in the names of the law firms in the House of Lords Tom Burgess and Catherine Belton the testify that the problem is this a very interesting question about the word du Soleil got some of these very very rich people send very very tough letters insisting.

They were because this refers to the late 1990s with some people became very very rich very quickly gaining control of natural resources in 1990s when we basically had the wild weaste out in Russia not some of them have since become great philanthropist if you think of Len blavatnik.

Music please play Ukrainian resources currently some of the I think you've got to distinguish between groups of I got some of them become grateful and they given money take Morgan Freeman some of the Ukrainian some of them own a football club Mr Abramovich to be a governor Siberian province.

He does give money to charity.

He doesn't sponsor art museums but and then there are others who are much darker figures of interview one of them who controls the different categories of people bottom line the law is not in favour of investigated public service investigation.

Because of the balance on my brother's because people you mentioned Catherine Belton from reuters and Tim Burgess at the ft were saying in a foreign Affairs Select Committee this week, but the difficulty of the stories pool Carolina Galaxy Tom Burgess from the after he told the government's in about committee that London lawyers apply psychological pressure to journalist, do you recognise that I do actually not on the level of story I should say because he never threaten to Sue all the items you remind go there and but in general.

Lot of the most aggressive labour lawyers or send on and they target in this country in this so he's jealous for example acting on behalf of Maltese politicians for claiming damages in England in Italian

To write I think about the children of oligarchs, but it wasn't easy as that right.

It's never you know suspect that the there is a lower listening to this conversation as well.

I mean that you know how hard it has been for her.

I'm just gonna change Direction now because I want to pick up on something that we talked about a few weeks ago, which was the Crackdown on Russian TV channels immediate in the UK and around the world and I've only just beginning Laura Kelly aztecross political based in Paris news.

Channels is not a simple as the EU would like why not it wasn't that easy legally because it was a decision to ban those Media from from the European soil but it was unprecedented so the first question that need to be answered was what legal grounds do you use?

To forbid Media organizations from broadcasting in Europe and of course our sins and Sputnik or Not Unusual in that they use journalist with actual press cards and prudential so will happen is that a new team leaders realise that media regulation was going to turn Ewan and that's how they decided to go through the economic economic sanctions out but I see is actually challenging that on You chords, so we will see whether that is legally valid or not and does it mean is that is the owners now on the Tech companies to Block Party voluntarily.

I mean that in the scope of the sections.

So the online online channels telegram channels YouTube channels Facebook that was in the scope so they have

It was legally binding for them to do so but what we seeing is what we called Mirror website which are websites that copy the content of Band website but with different url's so it's harder to Crackdown on them and on French platforms that says Odyssey which is very well known among the Conspiracy groups.

You can still find out on that on that website to bring you in right at the end.

Just for the last few seconds you how successful do you think rushing back been at influencing public opinion in the west very little on this shows and being essentially apologists or near that but you know just having an English reporter an English voice on our

Which has a tiny audience, I don't think it's that I do think that there was an important influence in other areas particularly on brexit and that is a good way to go, but unfortunately run out of time for all of that.

Thank you to you all so much to Lionel barber formerly of the ft.

Dolores Adam bienkov byline times Natalia antonova compare the stories and Paul Carolina Galaxy from tortoise Media at the meteor shower will be back at the same time next week but for now thanks for listening.


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