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#6 - JRL 7206
Russian major independent TV to be cut off for debts

Moscow, 2 June: Mostelekom, a cable operator owned by the Moscow city administration, will begin on Monday [2 June] to disconnect the debtor TVS channel, Russia's biggest independent television group, from the company's cable network, said Mostelekom's general director Aleksandr Makhonov.

Explaining the move, he said there was "no politics" behind it and that the reason was that TVS shareholders were refusing to pay the debt, which he put at 8m dollars.

He said Mostelekom had suggested various debt restructuring arrangements and proposed signing a repayment schedule, but TVS had rejected every option for cooperation.

Russia's national electricity company Unified Energy System (UES) has a regular practice of disconnecting a customer that does not pay, Makhonov said. "And we will also gradually disconnect the TV channel, district by district."

"There are no politics here, it's a purely economic decision," he said. "If TVS pays off its debts, we will resume relaying the TV channel, but this will also take some time."

TVS spokesman Tatyana Blinova told Interfax: "Mentioning UES in this statement is absolutely inappropriate, as that structure has never been a shareholder of the TV channel. [UES chief] Anatoliy Chubays represents no-one but himself on the board of directors of the channel. He is acting as a private individual."

TVS has issued no official statement.

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