Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, which is extorting equity from Shell, Mitsui and Mitsubishi in the Sakhlin 2 LNG project, is also buying up large parts of the Russian press.
The Editor's Web Log quoted AFP in April:
Russia's state controlled gas giant Gazprom is set to increase its control over the country's media through the potential purchase of Komsomolskaya Pravda, the paper with the largest circulation; 817 000 copies daily in 2004 (statistic from World Press Trends 2005). Gazprom, however, would not confirm this report. The company is also rumoured to be considering buying the broadsheet Kommersant. The Russian government has been criticised for using Gazprom as a means to tighten its control over the media. For example, last June it bought a large percentage of shares of the independent newspaper Izvestia (see previous posting). This past weekend Russia saw protests precisely against state interference in the media sector (see previous posting).
Gazprom is both earning big bucks and flexing political muscle in the export market on behalf of Putin's bare knuckle geopolitical ambitions. For a brief time, natural gas was cut off to Ukraine in the dead of winter, causing major hardship.
Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom on Friday accused Ukraine of siphoning off as much gas as Germany usually receives from Russia over three days, raising the heat in a renewed gas dispute that has led to more shortfalls in Russian gas exports to Europe.