MOSCOW: A criminal investigation into alleged tax evasion triggered a police raid earlier this week on the offices of Russian Media Group, one of the nation's largest broadcast holding companies, "a law enforcement source" revealed on Thursday.

RMG's many media and entertainment assets include the high-rating Russkoye Radio station. It is 78% owned by a collective of Mother Russia's new aristocracy – oil executives. LUKoil general director, Sergei Kozhevnikov owns the remaining 22%.

The raid was a heavyweight affair, involving Moscow City Police, representatives of the Moscow Prosecutor's Office and the Interior Ministry, who carried out a ten-hour search of RMG's offices.

The raid is allegedly concerned with a criminal investigation into charges of tax evasion. Local cynics, however, wonder whether political considerations have driven the investigation.

There has been unrest within RMG since May 2007 when seven journalists at its Russian News Service resigned en bloc, complaining that their reports on a Dissenter's March, a dispute between Russia and Estonia, and other issues, had been censored by new management. 

And on June 1 2008, News Service director Alexander Shkolnik resigned for reasons unstated. 

Lips, meantime, are sealed all round.

Data sourced from Moscow Times; additional content by WARC staff