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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chubais Confirms Role in TV6 Tender

MILAN, Italy -- Anatoly Chubais, the head of Unified Energy Systems, said Tuesday he would back a team of journalists hoping to bid for TV6, which was taken off the air in January.

Asked by Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore if he would confirm his part in a financial backing group, Chubais said "Yes" but did not say whether he was going in with his own money or with UES.

With TV6 off the air, the Kremlin has gained control of all Russia's nationwide television channels for the first time since the Soviet era.

Last week, media reported that Chubais had been involved in talks between a group of investors and former TV6 journalists to participate in a tender for the channel, which was closed after a court upheld a minority shareholder's complaint that the station was bankrupt.

Former TV6 anchor Yevgeny Kiselyov and a core team of reporters want to bid for the channel's frequency but are concerned their need for financial help could compromise their independence.

"This wouldn't be Chubais TV or anyone else's TV but rather an independent channel with independent money," Chubais was quoted as saying.

"I think the team of journalists from the channel have shown themselves to be independent and very professional, so I support the idea that a group of Russian companies should join up to help the team take part in the license auction in March."

Chubais declined to name other investors.

Alfa Bank president Pyotr Aven said in an interview published Tuesday in Moskovskiye Novosti newspaper that his bank would not join the consortium of investors backing the journalists.

"We deal with business and not politics," Aven said of the bank's reason for staying out of the March 27 tender.

Meanwhile, Kiselyov said Tuesday on Ekho Moskvy radio that negotiations to prepare for the bid were moving forward.

"We will do everything so that the bidding will be democratic, transparent, honest and legal," Kiselyov said.

He and his team went to TV6 after Kremlin-controlled Gazprom took over NTV, a station founded by Vladimir Gusinsky and run by Kiselyov.

"There is something going on in Russian television which gives ground for concern. Both I and my [Union of Right Forces] party are critical of what the authorities have done," Chubais said.

The Kremlin says it has nothing to do with the shake-ups, but President Vladimir Putin has not hidden his contempt for the stations' former owners.

Last week, a representative of Boris Berezovsky said that TV6's former boss wanted to sell its assets, including cameras, to whoever wins the tender so that the new owners do not have to start from scratch.

(Reuters, MT)