The Moscow Arbitration Court has begun the first stage of the bankruptcy proceedings - supervision - in relation to the Russian division of the media company Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The trial was initiated at the request of the Moscow Inspectorate of the Federal Tax Service of Russia No. 7.
In March, the Federal Tax Service demanded that the company be declared bankrupt under a simplified procedure without the stages of supervision, financial recovery and external management. However, now the tax service has announced that the legal entity has “property, which can be used to pay for the bankruptcy procedure,” and asked to carry out the procedure as usual. The debtor, in turn, asked the court not to consider the application of the Federal Tax Service in connection with the moratorium on bankruptcy in Russia since April.
By court decision, Yulia Aga-Kuliyeva was appointed interim manager of the debtor. The debt of Radio Liberty to the tax authority was included in the register of the company's creditors. According to taxes, the legal entity of the radio station has accumulated about 7 million rubles of debts.
Since 2021, Radio Liberty has owed 988 million rubles in fines due to the lack of labeling of a media outlet as a “foreign agent” (Article 19.34.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). In 2022, the media company received another 75.8 million rubles in fines for refusing to remove materials about the war in Ukraine (Article 13.41 of the Code of Administrative Offenses).
Andrei Shary, director of the Russian service of Radio Liberty, told The Insider that the company's total debt is about $15-17 million.
“This process began a long time ago, and its outcome was known from the very beginning. We fought only to be bankrupt not in a hurry, but in the usual way. Of course, we cannot fail to fulfill financial obligations. Bankruptcy will not nullify our debt: the state will still try to get this money out of us. Along this line, they treat us as an economic entity. The limited liability company will go to the state and they will deal with the debts. I can’t imagine how they will do it,” Shary commented.
The bankruptcy case of Radio Liberty will be considered by the court on February 6, 2023.
After the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Roskomnadzor blocked the Radio Liberty website, along with other independent media that did not support the war. After that, the company announced the termination of work in Russia.