The ongoing struggle for control of Russia’s sole independent television network NTV [WAMN: 30-Jan-01] may finally be nearing its climax, with reports that the broadcaster’s owner Vladimir Gusinsky has agreed to sell most of his shares to a consortium headed by Ted Turner.

Turner, the founder of CNN and vice-chairman of its parent AOL Time Warner, is due later this week to meet with officials from Russia’s state-dominated gas company Gazprom, a major shareholder in NTV, which staged a boardroom coup on Tuesday. Gazprom used a shareholder meeting to replace the network’s board (including Gusinsky) with its own people. US banker Boris Jordan now heads the company, though Turner is thought to be keen to get rid of him.

Gazprom’s manoeuvres in recent months have raised fears that the government might be trying to clamp down on NTV, one of its fiercest critics. Eager to preserve the network’s independence, Turner leads a group of investors – including financier George Soros – which is reported to have signed a $225 million deal with Gusinsky.

News source: New York Times