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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jailed Bykov Puts TV Back On the Air in Krasnoyarsk

Former Krasnoyarsk Aluminum head Anatoly Bykov, who has been held since October in Moscow's Lefortovo Prison on charges of conspiring to commit murder, has stepped in to put national television stations ORT and RTR back on the air in his native region by paying their energy debts, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

Last month, Krasnoyarsk energy supplier Energosbyt cut off electricity at the Television and Radio Broadcasting Center over a debt of 400,000 rubles ($13,800), which left the Siberian region of 3 million people without the two state-controlled television stations and also three major radio stations: Mayak, Russkoye Radio and Radio Rossii.

Kommersant wrote that Bykov, acting through his lawyers, on Tuesday ordered the debt paid with funds from the Faith and Hope foundation, which he had formed while general director of the mammoth Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant. Bykov not only covered the debt, but also provided 50,000 rubles more in advance, the newspaper said.

Bykov's gesture from his prison cell to restore the broadcasting of federal television channels in the region was a major blow to his rival, regional Governor Alexander Lebed, who had not been able to do so for 23 days. The Krasnoyarsk broadcasting center is part of VGTRK, the state-controlled national television and radio company.

Bykov was arrested in October outside Krasnoyarsk and flown to Moscow, where he was charged with conspiring to murder business associate Pavel Struganov and his bodyguard. Prosecutors staged their deaths, down to television footage of body bags being loaded into ambulances, in what they later said was an elaborate deception to prevent contract killings from being carried out.

A former boxing instructor, Bykov built up a fortune that includes a 28 percent stake in the Krasnoyarsk plant, Russia's second largest aluminum smelter. A series of disputes led to a falling out with Lebed in 1999, and a short time later Bykov flew to Europe. While Bykov was in Hungary, Russia issued a warrant for his arrest on money-laundering, gunrunning and separate murder charges, and the aluminum plant ousted Bykov from its board.

In April 2000, Hungary extradited Bykov to Krasnoyarsk, where he was imprisoned. He was released in August, but two months later he was arrested again.