Murdoch’s Moscow-based advertising group says office searched

FROM RIA NOVOSTI

MOSCOW, (RIA Novosti) – News Outdoor Russia, a billboard advertising company controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, confirmed on Monday that police have searched its office in central Moscow and two production facilities.

The spokesman said searches were carried out on August 29, and that a similar search was conducted in the office of Moscow’s Committee for Advertising, Information and Decoration.

Another Moscow-based advertising company, Reklama Servis, had said in August that Murdoch was planning to sell News Outdoor Russia, a subsidiary of News Corporation, over fears that media reports of authorities’ pressure on the company would reduce its value.

A spokesman for News Outdoor Russia told RIA Novosti: “Law enforcement bodies have no claims against us.”

He also said that the company’s activities in Russia had almost come to a halt. “Besides the financial losses, News Outdoor has suffered substantial damage to its reputation.”

Russia’s business daily Kommersant said in June that the Investigation Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office had opened a criminal case against News Outdoor for illegally depriving the Moscow City budget of revenue.

The advertising group had received rental fees for placing billboards in Moscow. News Outdoor Russia had already won a court case over the company’s operations between 2002 and 2007.

The company is currently preparing an official letter to the Russian Prosecutor General protesting against pressure from authorities aimed at “inflicting damage to the business reputation and economic stability of News Outdoor.”

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