News Corp. creates foothold in Russia

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. gained a full foothold in Russia’s backyard Wednesday when it bought out the local majority shareholding in Georgian TV channel Imedi, the Tbilisi-based station reported.

Badri Patarkatsishvili, a Georgian businessman who held a 51% stake in Imedi, which includes a TV station, newspaper and news agency, said he was selling to concentrate on his political interests.

News Corp., which last year bought a 49% stake in Imedi, was due to announce the deal at a press conference scheduled in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Wednesday.

Imedi TV is one of two leading commercial stations in Georgia, Russia’s southern neighbor. It has recently come under fire in Georgia for alleged political bias with some critics dubbing it a “tribune for the opposition.”

Patarkatsishvili used to live in Russia but returned to his native Georgia in 2000 after being accused of fraud. A close friend of Boris Berezovsky, the exiled anti-Kremlin businessman who lives in London, Patarkatsishvili said the charges were politically motivated.

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