This morning I found out, from a comment left on a Independent article, that the newspaper is owned and controlled by Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev. I’ve been a subscriber for a couple of years, but today I canceled and subscribed to The Guardian.
Vladimir Putin is a psychopath who has committed countless savage war crimes, for which he is responsible, but it is also true that he has only been able to acquire the power he has now because we in the West have allowed him with our dependence on Russia. resources and our qualified “condemnation” engendered by our fear of losing the benefits of trade with Russia. In the UK we have allowed dirty Russian money to seep into politics. But aside from these gigantic problems, and that if we had focused on green energy years ago we wouldn’t need Russian oil and gas, I have to admit that I have played my part in that enablement by not checking what money is being used to create, control or shore up the resources I access.
From what I have been able to see, The Independent is free to publish what it wants, which of course is vital and counts in favor of the Lebedevs, but it is not the only thing that matters. In the Evening Standard, which they also own, Evgeny Lebedev wrote passionately about his family’s record in defending press freedom in the UK and Russia and strongly denied that he has any connection to Putin. It is a compelling read. He also noted that he wrote an open letter to Vladimir Putin, also published in the Evening Standard, begging him to stop the war. It is a short letter, it does not go into much detail. Very politely expressed.
Hardly the kind of condemnation for someone who has severed all ties with a psychopathic dictator, is outraged by his war crimes, and wants or needs nothing from them. Evgeny also mentioned the £50,000 raised by his newspaper campaigns for Ukrainians. Excellent. Perhaps he contributed most of it; who knows? But he is supposedly worth around £300 million. He could have quadrupled the amount twenty times and not notice the effect on his bank account.
You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. Evgeny has long been a great friend of the easily corruptible and self-deceived serial liar and cheat who is our esteemed Prime Minister and has benefited wonderfully from that support, dating back to his mayoral campaign. We, on the other hand, have all suffered, and still suffer (those of us who are alive), as a consequence of that support of Evgeny –and of other powerful friends with a lot of money from Johnson– that did not stop at mayor but elevated him to the position most powerful politician in the country. A position for which he is neither equipped nor deserves in any way.
We are not the only ones who suffer. So are Ukrainian refugees, subjected to inhumane treatment by our government, which boasts of being at the forefront of support with as little regard for the truth and the suffering that lies create, as Vladimir Putin has done.
In addition to the company that people keep, in 2017 and 2018 Evgeny Lebedev sold 30% of the shares of The Independent and Evening Standard to companies registered in the Cayman Islands, through a series of “unconventional, complex and clandestine” transactions. The figurehead was Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel, a Saudi businessman with connections to the Saudi state-owned Al Ahli Bank. According to an article published in The Guardian in 2019, neither newspaper knows who employs it.
Simply put, The Independent is supported by money from mega-rich individuals or organizations in two countries with horrifying records of human rights abuses and with connections to the heads of state of those countries.
It’s easy to be lazy and dismiss all these things; I tell myself it’s all hearsay and what harm can I do if I subscribe to the Independent? But the reality is that small things are building blocks and now we are faced with a giant monolith of megalomania created from those small blocks. So, I cancel my subscription to The Independent.
The Guardian is controlled by the Scott Trust Ltd, and as far as I can see there are no oligarchs with previous or current ties to Putin on the board. The current board members are heard below, in the screenshot from the trust’s Wiki page.
The Guardian did not ask me to write this article nor did it pay me or give me a discount.