Today the Guardian reported that Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev will buy Britain’s Evening Standard.

Regarding the wisdom of buying a newspaper in 2009, Lebedev told the Guardian: “As far as I’m concerned this…has nothing to do with making money. There are lots of other ways. This is a good way to waste money.”

Finally, a newspaper owner who GETS IT! But before any of us suffering media types fly over there to try to convince Lebedev he needs a foothold in the United States, I thought I’d better make a list of the pros and cons of Russian business oligarchs buying newspapers.


  • Russian oligarchs are getting used to losing money. Since this time last year, the index of the Russian stock exchange RTS has plummeted from 2339.79 to 569.12. The dropoff at City Paper has been far less dramatic. An oligarch who’s lost his shirt on timber futures wouldn’t even feel it.

  • Lebedev used to be a KGB agent. This will lend CP employees a frisson of intrigue at AAN events.
  • Up till now Russian oligarchs have favored London as a second home; but their money will go farther here because the pound is still overvalued (1:1.4 USD). This may encourage them to take over other parts of the D.C. economy. I nominate the Redskins, the entirety of Tysons Corner, and the Police Department, because I’m still P.O.’d about that ticket I got for entering the crosswalk on 18th Street NW JUST as the red hand started flashing. That was bullshit.
  • Our softball team could be stocked with ringers, much like Shabtai von Kalmanovic has done with his Spartak women’s basketball team. Express: YOU ARE TOAST!


  • The Russian method of settling business disputes is a little gothic for my tastes. While I wouldn’t have any problem with Jason Linkins waking up next to the severed head of Jorge Garcia, Sommer Mathis seems like a real sweetheart and I wish her nothing but happiness and prosperity. Plus many Russian oligarchs are in dutch with Putin, and we really don’t have the staff to survive even one polonium-210 poisoning. Would totally screw the next special issue.
  • Alcohol-tolerance disparities would mean that only former Reason staffers would be able to handle management retreats; pretty soon every newspaper in America would be agitating for privatization of highways.
  • If we piss off businesses that Russian embassy folks patronize, will they cut off Europe’s gas again?