Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gryzlov: Putin Backs Turner’s NTV Bid

Unity party leader Boris Gryzlov said Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin welcomed the idea of CNN founder Ted Turner buying a stake in NTV television.

But a senior presidential aide made it clear the Kremlin thought Turner was wrong to seek some kind of political guarantee for his bid.

NTV’s parent company Media-MOST has come under much pressure in recent months from prosecutors investigating its finances. Media-MOST says the pressure is politically motivated and accuses the Kremlin of trying to take control of NTV and muzzle the media.

The Prosecutor General’s Office added to the pressure Tuesday by formally indicting Media-MOST finance manager Anton Titov on charges of embezzlement, although it gave no precise details. Prosecutors deny their actions are politically motivated.

Gryzlov said Turner’s interest in NTV was discussed during a meeting between deputies and the president Monday. "He said very clearly that if Turner wants to buy NTV stock, that would not be a bad thing," Gryzlov told a news conference.

But the head of the Security Council, Sergei Ivanov, said it was wrong for Turner to seek political backing for any bid.

"What? Will we go and ask President Bush for some kind of guarantees if we want to buy, for example, part of CNN," Ivanov was quoted by news agencies as saying. He hoped requests for guarantees would no longer be made.

A consortium of foreign investors led by Turner is ready to pay at least $300 million for stakes in NTV and other parts of the Media-MOST empire. But Turner wants assurances that the Kremlin will not interfere in NTV’s operation.

NTV owes nearly $300 to state-controlled Gazprom and claims the Kremlin is using that debt to try to rob it of its independence.

Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky is under house arrest in Spain fighting extradition to Russia on charges of fraud. He says the charges have no basis.

Deputy Prosecutor Vasily Kolmogorov flew to Spain this week with the reported mission of bolstering Moscow’s case for Gusinsky’s extradition. But he had to settle Tuesday for what amounted to a five-minute courtesy call with Judge Baltasar Garzon.

Two lawyers for Gusinsky were also present because Garzon refused the Russian’s request for a private hearing, court sources said.

Interfax had said Kolmogorov was bringing documents asking for the confiscation of Gusinsky’s property abroad, including the southern Spanish villa where he has been under house arrest since Dec. 22 on orders from Garzon.

But speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kolmogorov said he did not hand over any documents or "put any pressure on Spanish authorities."

He repeated the prosecutor’s office’s denial that the case was politically motivated. "The outcome will be determined purely by the judicial process," he said.

Kolmogorov said he had traveled to Spain at the invitation of the Russian Embassy and met with the judge simply as a courtesy.

(Reuters, AP)