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Russia: TV-6 Loses Court Battle To Stay Open

Moscow, 11 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's Higher Arbitration Court ruled today to close TV-6, the country's last major independent televison channel. The court confirmed a lower court decision ordering the closing of TV-6 at the request of a minority shareholder owned by oil company LUKoil.

LUKoil -- which itself is minority owned by the state -- demanded that the station be closed because its debts outweighed its assets. TV-6 maintains it is profitable and says a minority shareholder cannot bring bankruptcy proceedings against a company.

TV-6 General Director Yevgenii Kiselev said that the station could appeal the ruling in the Constitutional Court. Kiselev accused the Kremlin of seeking to bring media to heel and attempting to "direct" the judicial system. A TV-6 representative told Interfax the company would also take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

On 9 January, the U.S. State Department said it was worried about strong political pressure in the legal case to liquidate TV-6.