Medvedev to issue decree ordering privatization

Russia’s state-owned regional TV networks, radio stations and newspapers are to be privatized.

President Dmitry Medvedev is due to issue a decree ordering the sale early in 2011, business daily Kommersant reported Monday, citing Kremlin officials.

Not all state-owned media assets will be on the block. The Kremlin is likely to retain a majority holding in Moscow-based TV-Center, an influential station with close ties to the city government.

The selloff is part of Medvedev’s drive to clean up an economy in which the state still holds major assets in many industries.

Supporting regional media is likely to cost Russian taxpayers $5 billion over the next three years.

Presidential adviser Arkady Dvorkovich recently said that state-owned newspapers, TV and radio stations are a “waste of money” and it was time to sell them.

The privatization is likely to run into resistance from governors who regard state-owned media as important tools of political influence across Russia’s vast regions.

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