Lebedev offers to help tackle corruption

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The Independent Online

Alexander Lebedev, the owner of The Independent, has written to the head of Russia's security service offering his experience from 11 years of service with the organisation to help to expose corruption in business and the country's "power structures".

Mr Lebedev announced last week that he was giving up his Russian banking business and seeking membership of Vladimir Putin's latest political initiative following a campaign of harassment against the finance house by the FSB, the successor to the KGB. Last November, the National Reserve Bank headquarters in Moscow were raided by 30 masked police officers while the billionaire, the financial backer of the opposition Novaya Gazeta newspaper, was inside the building. A spokesman for Mr Lebedev described the move as a "circus" and said no claims had been levelled at him personally or the bank.

The entrepreneur, who has been an outspoken critic of the Russian government, said a number of FSB generals had been targeting his business with claims that he held "unlawful intentions". He pointed out that similar allegations had been levelled by the FSB at Sergei Storchak, a finance minister and friend who spent 11 months in prison before the case against him fell apart in court.

In an open letter to Alexander Bortnikov, the director of the FSB, Mr Lebedev said: "I am ready to offer my experience to help expose the corruption which pervades Russia's financial sphere and the country's power structures."

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