Media-Most owes Gazprom 941 million dollars

The overall debt of Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-Most holding to Russia's Gazprom is 941 million dollars, net of interest, Alexander Kazakov, a member of the NTV board of directors and chairman of Gazprom-Media's board of directors, told a news conference in RIA Novosti on Saturday.

Out of this sum, he said, 40 million dollars is a credit advanced by Gazprom-Bank to NTV television. In repayment, Kazakov noted, Gazprom did not receive a "single kopeck" in cash from Gusinsky on this credit. In Kazakov's view, the only way for Gusinsky to avoid paying off his debts is "to put on the garb of a political outcast, something which he is trying to do". Thanks to Mr Gusinsky Gazprom has become "a strangler of press freedom". But this freedom is "as important" to Gazprom as it is to the media magnate, Kazakov said. He stressed that Gazprom and its subsidiary Gazprom-Media have never demanded the sacking of NTV television staff or changes in their editorial policy.