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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutors Target Gusinsky's Deputy

The day after news broke that Vladimir Gusinsky may be close to hooking up with Ted Turner, prosecutors searched Gusinsky's Media-MOST company and questioned the man involved in negotiating a deal with a foreign investor.

The news that the CNN founder may buy a stake in NTV also appeared to anger Media-MOST's main shareholder, government-controlled Gazprom-Media, thus ending a two-month-old peace.

Turner said in Washington he was considering investing in NTV, Prime-Tass reported Tuesday.

Once again stopping short of confirming that its choice for a foreign investor is Turner, Media-MOST said Wednesday that it was negotiating separately from Gazprom-Media. It also accused the Prosecutor General's Office of attempting to disrupt the talks.

Officials from the prosecutor's office searched the office of one of Media-MOST's top officials, Andrei Tsimailo, and interrogated him Wednesday. At the same time, Gazprom-Media made clear through Interfax that it was unhappy with Media-MOST's talks with Turner.

Click here to read our special report on the Struggle for Media-MOST.Media-MOST spokeswoman Yelena Bruni said there was no doubt the two events were related. "Only the blind can fail to see the connection," Bruni said. The search, she said, prevented Tsimailo from leaving for London for more talks on bringing in a foreign investor.

Prosecutor General's Office spokesman Leonid Troshin was quoted by Interfax as saying that prosecutors were looking for documents "concerning Media-MOST's assets" and the search was carried out according to the law.

Officials were looking for internal audit documents necessary to appraise Gusinsky's companies, Interfax said, citing sources in the prosecutor's office.

Bruni said Media-MOST had previously provided prosecutors with a copy of the appraisal carried out by the Russian company International Appraisal Center, and the pretext for Wednesday's search was artificial.

Under the Nov. 17 agreement settling Media-MOST's debts to Gazprom, a 25 percent plus one share stake in NTV was slated for sale to a foreign investor through Deutsche Bank AG London.

Neither Gazprom-Media general director Alfred Kokh nor other company officials could be reached for comment Wednesday. In the news agency reports, Gazprom-Media officials charged that Media-MOST is violating the Nov. 17 agreement by not coordinating the search for a foreign investor with Gazprom and by not using Deutsche Bank as an intermediary.

Bruni contended that Media-MOST is allowed to search for an investor independently. She said Gazprom wants an investor "who would suit their political and business patrons, namely the Kremlin and Video International."

Advertising giant Video International was founded by Mikhail Lesin, who is now the press minister.

Reuters, citing industry sources in London, reported that Australian-born media magnate Rupert Murdoch was approached about NTV several months ago but had decided against the proposal. Bruni said that Media-MOST has never negotiated with Murdoch and hinted that he might have been Gazprom-Media's choice.