Russia tycoon skips UK visit over police raids
Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev said he has withdrawn from a key business forum in London starting Tuesday over fears that he may not be allowed back into Russia by the "corrupt" authorities.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to open the Russian Business Week at the London School of Economics Tuesday in course of his official visit to Britain.
But a shadow has been cast after Lebedev -- who owns British dailies The Evening Standard and the Independent -- announced he will not go to the forum because of attempts by the Russian authorities to raid his business.
"I am extremely sorry for not being able to attend your forum," a letter posted on Lebedev's website said.
"The reason for my absence is the worsening of business climate in Russia, including the attack by corrupt law enforcement authorities on my business."
"These events hinder my ability to depart Moscow -- there is a possibility that I will not be admitted back," he said. "Regards to Mr Lavrov -- his is a tough job," says the letter.
Lebedev was to deliver a lecture on Wednesday afternoon, according to a former version of the schedule on the website of the school's Russian Business Society.
The schedule has been updated on Wednesday to show a 1.5 hour hole instead of Lebedev's event.
Lebedev's National Reserve Bank was raided in early November by some 20 masked and armed police, which Lebedev said was unnecessary and resulted in a massive capital flight from the bank.
Lebedev is known for his celebrity flair and unusually for a Russian oligarch often criticizes government policies.
© 2011 AFP