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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kosmos, Lapshin Back in Court

The owners of Kosmos TV on Thursday began their latest court battle against Alexander Lapshin, the Kosmos general director who has continued working at the company despite being fired in July.

The American and Russian partners who own Kosmos claimed Lapshin was fired for failing to fulfill the company's business plan and preventing the partners from conducting financial audits by barring them from the building.

Kosmos, a 50-50 joint venture owned by the U.S. company International TelCell Inc. and Russia's Main Television and Radio Broadcasting Center, delivers CNN, MTV and Eurosport to thousands of Moscow homes.

The partners are fighting an August ruling of the Ostankino municipal court that reinstated Lapshin on the grounds he was fired in violation of Russian labor law. Since July the two sides have been struggling for control of the company from separate offices, confusing customers with mixed messages about where to pay their bills.

The Kosmos TV partners in September appealed the municipal court's decision in a Moscow arbitration court, which sent the case back to the municipal court for a second hearing. A decision is expected tomorrow.

In court Thursday, Lapshin claimed he was fired for uncovering the partners' plans to sell the Russian half of the company to the American half, a sale he said would represent theft of government property. The Russian and American partners deny they ever considered the sale.

"Because I was against this deal, they fired me, I think," Lapshin said.

Lapshin also claimed he was not given a reason for his dismissal, an act that would violate labor law.

Lawyers for the Kosmos side pointed to Russia's more recent Law on Joint Stock Companies, which does not require an employer to state a reason for dismissing an employee.

Yet the Kosmos partners presented several reasons for Lapshin's dismissal in court Thursday. Peter Kahelin, vice president of International TelCell Inc., said Lapshin failed to meet customer subscription levels outlined in the company's business plan, and angered programming suppliers by giving them inaccurate subscription figures.

"We were so concerned about this, we wanted our audit team to go in and get the information, but we were shut out of the building," Kahelin said.