Alexander Lebedev met with a senior Russian government official weeks before the invasion of Ukraine
- Alexander Lebedev met with a senior Russian official in early February, weeks before the invasion of Ukraine.
- Vyacheslav Dukhin posted photos on his Instagram showing Lebedev and him visiting a factory that produces parts for Russia’s nuclear power industry.
Alexander Lebedev met with a senior Russian government official in early February, weeks before the invasion of Ukraine, to tour a complex that produces parts for Russia’s nuclear energy industry.
Photographs posted on Instagram by Vyacheslav Dukhin, a former journalist who has served as deputy prime minister of the Moscow region since July 2020, show the two men visiting the Energomash ChZEM complex in Chekhov, near Moscow.
At the time, Russian forces were being reinforced on the Ukrainian borders, with NATO forces on standby. After the invasion of Ukraine began, Dukhin shared pro-war content on his Instagram.
The photographs show the couple looking at components produced by Energomash, visiting a cultural complex housed in a renovated factory on the site and a sports center on the site.
Energomash is the only manufacturer of a type of valve for Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy organization, Dukhin wrote.
Lebedev, whose ties to the company date back to 2015, is a former KGB agent and the father of newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev, whose peerage has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks.
Boris Johnson stepped forward with the honor for his friend despite Britain’s security services advising him against it, according to the Sunday Times.
Lord Bew, chairman of Lords’ appointments check watchdog Holac, recently told MPs it was a ‘particularly complex case with many wrinkles which are so obvious to everyone : how responsible is someone for his father”.
Lebedev junior is the majority owner of the Evening Standard and the Independent, which were first bought for £1 each by his father.
Questions also surround a reported meeting between Johnson, then foreign minister, and Lebedev senior during an April 2018 trip to a villa owned by the Lebedevs in Italy.
Johnson traveled without his security detail and no minutes were taken of their meeting, which took place a month after the chemical poisonings in Salisbury of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal.
Alexander Lebedev’s posts on Energomash and allegations of a hacked website
A spokesperson for Lebedev said he had never met Dukhin before the tour at Energomash and did not own Energomash.
“The factory in question is not owned by Alexander,” he told Insider. “It is not his property. This has been confirmed to me. Alexander does not own it. He has no share in the property.”
He rents space at the factory, where he intended to start a school, and was visiting it for his four children, he added.
“It was purely a personal interest that came as a parent,” the spokesperson said. He did not explain why Dukhin was there.
But in a 2016 interview with Russian energy trade magazine Armtorg, a plant manager said the plant was part of the National Reserve Corporation, owned by Lebedev.
Energomash is listed on Alexander Lebedev’s Russian language website, but not on his English website.
A page on Lebedev’s website cites an Instagram post from December 2021, naming Lebedev as the owner of the factory.
However, this was dismissed by the spokesperson, who told Insider, “The website is no longer under Alexander’s control. It is now under the control of a disgruntled former employee.”
He declined to say how long the website had been out of control.
In 2015 and 2016, Lebedev shared a number of photographs of himself on the site, posing with valves. In another article, Lebedev indicates that the plant will produce “high-pressure valves for atomic and thermal power plants.”
—Alexander Lebedev (@lebedevalex) June 11, 2015
In a Feb. 17 meeting with the Moscow regional government and sanctioned energy company Gazprom, Energomash discussed “import substitution and technology development,” the company’s meeting notes say.
The spokesperson reiterated their denial that Alexander owned the factory after Insider approached him for clarification.
But an April 2022 presentation by the National Reserve Corporation, with a large photograph by Alexander Lebedev, cites the redevelopment of the Chekhov factory as an example of its cultural heritage work achieved through public partnerships- private.
Dukhin’s office has been contacted for comment.