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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sem Dnei Publisher's Car Burned

An unidentified assailant threw a Molotov cocktail at a car belonging to Dmitry Biryukov, the head of the Sem Dnei publishing house. He was not hurt, but the driver and passenger of another car reportedly suffered burns.

Biryukov was being driven to work Friday and had nearly reached his office on Leningradskoye Shosse when the homemade firebomb was thrown at his Mercedes.

The publisher is embroiled in a dispute with Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky over the fate of the Segodnya daily and Itogi weekly magazine. In an interview to Interfax, Biryukov indirectly blamed Gusinsky for the attack, saying "one of the shareholders was trying to put pressure on me."

Media-MOST spokesman Dmitry Ostalsky said he was perplexed by Biryukov's statement. "Neither Vladimir Gusinsky nor his partners have ever used any criminal methods in solving conflicts, it is well-known to everybody," Ostalsky said.

Northern district police spokeswoman Yekaterina Malyutina said the attacker was detained but she refused to give his name. She also said that investigators have not ruled out that it was a case of hooliganism rather than an attack targeting Biryukov.

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The Molotov cocktail broke the car's side window, cracked its windshield and caught the door on the driver's side on fire, Kommersant newspaper reported Saturday. The flaming bottle then ricocheted off of the Mercedes and flew into the open window of a Lada in the opposite lane. The driver and passenger of the Lada suffered burns on the face, neck and ears, Interfax reported.

Biryukov, a longtime business associate of Gusinsky's, took the side of Gazprom in a dispute over Media-MOST's multimillion-dollar debt to the state-controlled gas giant.

Biryukov and Gazprom's media arm together hold a 50 percent plus one share majority stake in Sem Dnei, which publishes Segodnya and Itogi.

Last week, Biryukov confirmed his intention to close Segodnya. He says the newspaper should be closed because it is losing money; Media-MOST says the real reason is its criticism of the Kremlin.