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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ekho Moskvy Stake Goes to Yevgeny Yasin

Gazprom has agreed to sell some of its shares in the Ekho Moskvy radio station to a former economics minister who hosts a program on the station, in a deal expected to limit state influence over the broadcaster, the sides said Monday.

The sale of Gazprom’s 9.5 percent stake would leave both the station’s journalists and the gas company with stakes of around 42.5 percent each, Ekho’s editor Alexei Venediktov said. The journalists’ package would be even larger than Gazprom’s by four shares, he said at a joint news conference with the chief of Gazprom’s media arm, Alfred Kokh.

However, the 9.5 percent stake will not be sold to Ekho staff, as journalists originally wanted, but to Yevgeny Yasin.

The sides described the deal as a reasonable compromise. However, Yasin is not obligated to back other Ekho journalists in voting with his shares, and could side with Gazprom, Venediktov said.

“There have been no demands on Yasin as a shareholder,” Venediktov told a news conference. “It is just in our view, he is our journalist.”

Ekho Moskvy is the last major outpost of Vladimir Gusinsky’s media empire, whose other outlets have fallen under Gazprom’s control.

Earlier this month, Gazprom won a court decision to gain a 52 percent controlling interest in Ekho Moskvy. Eager to remain independent, the station has been trying to buy back some of the shares.

Under the latest agreement, Gazprom is to sell the 9.5 percent stake to Yasin on the same day that it formally receives the shares awarded by the court. The transactions are expected to be completed by the beginning of August.

Yasin is a leader of the Union of Right Forces. He will suspend his duties in the party when he comes to own the shares, said party chief Boris Nemtsov.

The value of the deal was not disclosed, but the sides said it involved a large amount of money.

Gusinsky had earlier agreed to transfer his 14.5 percent share in Ekho Moskvy to the station’s jour