Russian billionaire Usmanov buys publisher Kommersant
Gazprom last year added Moscow-based daily newspaper Izvestia to its stable of media assets, raising concern about press freedoms under President Vladimir Putin. Gazprom's takeover in 2001 of NTV, Russia's last national independent TV station, sparked a series of protests in Moscow. Putin and Gazprom said at the time the NTV dispute was purely a business matter. Moscow-based Kommersant publishes a daily business paper, and the magazines Vlast and Dengi. It owns 12 regional publishing houses. Until February, Kommersant had been owned by billionaire Boris Berezovsky, who now lives in exile in London and sold the newspaper back then at an undisclosed price to his Georgian business partner Badri Patarkatsishvili. Usmanov, born in Uzbekistan, sold his stake in Corus Group Plc, the UK's biggest steelmaker, in December 2004 after that company's shares gained about 80% in a year. (Bloomberg)
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