The struggle for control of Russia's largest broadcaster ORT entered another round this week as the state-controlled Vneshekonombank said it was considering handing out an $85m loan to the financially strapped channel.

The statement came at the same time as the bank admitted that it would probably not be able to collect the $100m loan that former Russian president Boris Yeltsin ordered it to give to ORT after the August 1998 financial crisis. Repayment of the loan, which was issued against 13% of ORT's shares, was due in January this year.

Tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who controls 49% of the channel, announced last week that he would be willing to give back his shares to the state, unless the government, which owns the other 51%, coughs up more funding. Berezovsky installed his daughter Yekaterina as a member of the channel's board at last month's shareholders' meeting.