Ex-KGB agent Lebedev to buy London Evening Standard

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London, Jan.15 (ANI): A billionaire and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev is to buy London's Evening Standard that would see him become the first Russian oligarch to own a major British newspaper.

According to The Guardian's website, Lebedev is poised to buy a controlling stake in the ailing title, following a year of secret negotiations with Lord Rothermere, its owner and the chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust.

Under the terms of the deal, Lebedev will purchase 76 percent of the newspaper, with the Associated Newspapers group retaining 24 percent.

His son Evgeny, who lives in London, is due to sign the deal with Daily Mail and General Trust tomorrow.

The purchase will be an astonishing moment in British press history - the first time a former member of a foreign intelligence service has owned a British title.

Speaking to the website on Wednesday, Lebedev said he had read the Evening Standard and other British newspapers when he was a young spy at the Soviet embassy in London in the late 1980s.

He said: "I had to read every newspaper. I was there for that," he recalled. "I had to read the FT, the Guardian, Standard and the Daily Mail."

Lebedev is also part owner of the critical Novaya Gazeta paper, one of the last sources of media opposition inside Russia to the government. (ANI)

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