Russian media magnate Alexander Lebedev said as he went on trial on Monday (May 20) that he didn't think he was guilty in a televised punch-up with another Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky.

The financial backer of The Independent and London Evening Standard newspapers acknowledged he was involved in a brawl while recording a television chat show in 2011 but denies charges of hooliganism and political hatred.

If convicted, he could face up to five years in jail.

Lebedev, who arrived to court early on Monday morning, told Reuters he didn't think he was guilty of punching Polonsky, who did not show up at court because he is jailed in Cambodia on unrelated charges.

"No, of course not, I don't think I'm guilty and I don't understand the charges because there was no motive for hooliganism, there was no political hatred and there could not have been any between the two strangers one of whom, by the way, according to the witness for defence, behaved aggressively and provocatively," Lebedev said.

The powerfully-built multi-millionaire jumped out of his chair and hurled punches at property developer Polonsky after he goaded Lebedev as they recorded a television talk show in September 2011. Polonsky was knocked backwards and off of the studio podium.

Lebedev, who also co-owns Russia's main campaigning newspaper with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, has earlier claimed he acted in self-defence.

Presented by Adam Justice