Former Soviet president Gorbachev to form new party
With Russian billionaire Aleksandr Lebedev
In an interview with The New York Times, Russian billionaire Aleksandr Lebedev said he planned to team up with the former Soviet president, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, to form a political party, perhaps called the Independent Democratic Party of Russia. Mikhail I. Kuznetsov, the vice chairman of Mr. Gorbachev’s Union of Social Democrats, confirmed that a plan was in the works and said the new party may run candidates in the next round of parliamentary elections in 2011.
Mr. Lebedev, 48, has always seemed to operate from his own playbook. A former lieutenant colonel in the K.G.B., he was posted in Britain when the Soviet Union fell, and returned to Russia as an expert in emerging market debt, to become president of the National Reserve Bank. He speaks fluent, London-accented English and, though his white hair and slightly cherubic face recall an economics professor rather than a corporate predator, favors stovepipe pants, leather jackets and dark glasses, sometimes when he is indoors.
Several times in recent years Mr. Lebedev has found himself in hot water with Russia’s leaders. This occurred most notably in April, when a newspaper that Mr. Lebedev owned, Moscovsky Korrespondent, reported that Mr. Putin planned to divorce his wife and marry Alina Kabayeva, a 24-year-old champion in rhythmic gymnastics. The article set off a flurry of speculation in Moscow, but Mr. Lebedev said he was not behind it: He published an article saying that he had been fishing, without access to a telephone, when the edition of his newspaper went to press.The New York Times