Russia's Media Most group, owned by recently jailed tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky, has claimed that an unidentified foreign investor is seeking to buy out its $211.6m debt to government-controlled utilities giant Gazprom.
The beleaguered group has recently been under increasing pressure to pay back the loan. However one of Russia's largest daily newspapers, Kommersant, has published a letter from Geneva-based Capital Research Company - thought to be involved in negotiations to buy out the debt - which made it clear that it had not made a firm offer. Neither Gazprom or Media Most have commented on the letter.
Media Most has also been embroiled in an on-going battle with government authorities which culminated last month in Gusinsky's arrest. He was later released on the condition that he does not leave Moscow and faces the possibility of trial on criminal charges. Media Most-owned newspapers and TV stations have been highly critical of the Russian government and the arrest was viewed as political.
More recently, a delegation of Media Most's top management was detained at the airport in Moscow on their way to an international conference. Media Most group deputy chairman Igor Malashenko and NTV anchorman Yevgenia Kisselov were among those stopped by border guards at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport en route to the World Economic Forum Regional Conference in Salzburg where they were due to hold a press conference on their current problems in Russia. The group was later released and allowed to continue to Salzburg. A spokesman for the group, Dmitry Ostalsky, said the incident was part of the continuing pressure by the government on the group.