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Friday, 4 May, 2001, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Russian NTV handed to Gazprom

A Russian court has handed formal control of the NTV television station to the state-dominated gas corporation, Gazprom, confirming its takeover of the country's only nationwide independent broadcaster.

The court in Moscow ruled that Media-Most - the company owned by the media tycoon, Vladimir Gusinsky - must transfer additional NTV shares to its largest creditor, Gazprom.

Much of Mr Gusinsky's media empire has already been dismantled: NTV was taken over last month by Gazprom, and two publications in which Media-Most had an interest were closed down.

Mr Gusinsky - who is still in exile and charged in Russia with fraud and money laundering - says the moves were orchestrated by the Kremlin because his journalists criticised the Russian government.

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