Alexander Lebedev, the Panama Papers & other WTF coincidences!

From planet earth the sun and moon look the same size. Mark Twain was born and died on subsequent passings of Halley’s comet. Both “Alexander Lebedev” and “Evgeny Lebedev” appear in the Panama Papers yet these are not the ex-KGB oligarch press baron and his dandy son of the same names.

I know, what are the odds? Speaking from Walworth Road Paddy Power, Dave Slot calculates “longer than a puppet’s nose”. But may lightening strike twice, the coincidences keep coming:

The Alexander in the Panama Papers is registered at ‘Granovskogo 1 103 Moscow’. In 2012 Evgeny told of his family living at ‘3 Romanov Lane’. As it happens, Granovskogo was the Soviet era street name since changed back to Romanov. It’s the same road. Yes, blimey, blow me down, our press baron Lebedevs lived slap bang next door to the Panama Paper Lebedevs.

I know, pinch myself right? Oh I hear you, believers in a larger moon, how can we be certain the Panama Paper Lebedevs are not our press baron Lebedevs? Face some facts:

1) The press baron Lebedevs are opponents of corruption. They rail against tax havens, so would never use them.

2) Anti corruption press barons found to be indulging in, well, corruption is front page news yet not one media outlet has reported on this. Do you think press baron tax dodgers better protected than the Prime Minister?

3) The Lebedevs are welcomed in the swankiest circles of posh London society. These discerning ruling classes do not lack the insight to question how the splendour lavished upon them might be afforded. Which is through exceptional cleverness, hard graft and fair play. Obviously.

Coincidences happen. So shut it you cynics, conspiraloons and commies all.

Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev

Not made

Some Lebedev facts

Alexander Lebedev was a KGB lieutenant-colonel in London. Alongside other KGB men he made his fortune during the collapse of the Soviet Union – in the banking, energy and airlines industries.

He owns the Independent, Evening Standard, Novaya Gazeta (Moscow) newspapers and the tv channel London Live.

The Guardian’s Russia expert Luke Harding said Alexander is more “inside the [Russian] political elite” than out and suggests Novaya Gazeta is permitted to exist so Putin can claim a free press.

The BBC’s Patrick Forbes said of Lebedev’s newspaper purchase “If you own a paper in Britain, you have access to the British Establishment immediately…It means you have taken out a rather expensive form of life insurance. You’d have to be a very brave person in Russia to want to destroy overnight one of Russia’s main voices in the West.”

Evgeny, Alexander’s son, courts the fabulous and wealthy. The likes of Hugh Grant, Vanessa Redgrave, Lilly Allen and JK Rowling attend his fund raising parties. Elton John shaved his beard for charity. Evgeny hosted a private political meeting between Stephen Fry and the PM in a pub he owns with Ian McKellen.

The Lebedevs regularly meet the PM and Chancellor. They entertained Murdoch, Farage and Liam Fox at their Brexit party.

Evgeny declared himself the ‘Governor’ of the not built Garden Bridge. “I am proud to call him a friend and a Londoner” gushed Boris Johnson.

Alexander once closed a Russian paper for criticising Putin. Alexander was in the pro-Kremlin United Russia Party and supported Putin’s Popular Front. He cooed that Putin has “one thousand times more genius than Winston Churchill”.

The Lebedevs say they are hands off yet place their opinion in their rags. Such as questioning sanctions against Putin, calling for compromise with Putin over Crimea, asking for understanding of Russian fighting in Syria, always absolving Putin of blame.

The Independent names and shames some with non-dom tax status yet asked by Private Eye Evgeny declines to clarify his non-dom status. The Independent encouraged readers to search the Panama Papers. Presumably the journalists of the Independent and Evening Standard did that.