Artists, Producers Denied Bid for Russian Media Group on Mysterious Grounds

Russian President Vladimir Putin 2012
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery on June 1, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. 

Controversy over the creation of a "patriotic" media group continued in Russia this week as the current majority owner of Russian Media Group (RMG), which is to become the group's centerpiece, rejected an offer from a group of producers and artists who oppose the “patriotic” deal and wanted to buy the group to prevent it.

The investment company Kapital, which owns a 78-percent stake in RMG, rejected an offer from major producers Iosif Prigozhin, Viktor Drobysh, Igor Krutoi, Maksim Fadeyev and Igor Matviyenko and artists Filipp Kirkorov, Nikolai Baskov and Georgy Leps, who offered 5 billion rubles ($74.6 million) for its stake in the group.

Although the offer was lower than 6-7 billion rubles ($90 million to $105 million) that the state-run company Goskonsert offered, according to previous reports, the decision wasn't based on the numbers.

Vedomosti quoted a representative of Kapital as saying that provided information about financial solvency of the potential buyers was not sufficient, even though they are "very well-known people."

The decision puzzled the bidders. "Unlike Goskontsert, we made a concrete offer," Prigozhin was quoted as saying by Vedomosti. "But Kapital requested full financial data. You first tell us if you are willing to sell RMG to us, and then we'll provide you with all the documents, including bank guarantees."

Earlier Prigozhin and several other producers and artists said they were ready to boycott RMG if it is sold to Goskontsert and to found a new media group.

Several weeks ago, it was announced that Goskontsert will buy RMG to make it the basis of the "patriotic" media group, which will promote only local artists with a "patriotic" agenda, while Kremlin-loyal producer Vladimir Kiselyov will head the new group.

Many local producers and staple artists of RMG's flagship Russkoye Radio vehemently opposed the "patriotic" deal, saying it had more to do with Kiselyov's plans to take over control of RMG than patriotism.

However, it is likely that the Goskontsert deal will still go ahead as the state-run bank VTB said it was ready to provide a loan to Goskontsert for the acquisition of RMG.


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