GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Jean Musy’s polite open letter, as the director of Radio Zones (93.8FM), asking for help from his new neighbour the Dalai Lama, holds some surprising details, including the information that the land and building that is home to the new Shedrub Choekhor Ling in Monnetier-Mornex, Haute Savoie, was purchased for the centre by a Russian politician whose is a major arms and petroleum investor and his wife. The couple recently converted to Buddhism, according to Geneva newspaper Le Temps.
Radio Zones is a non-profit public service community radio station in neighbouring France which began to have problems transmitting in 2010 after a Russian couple, Svetlana Kapusta and her husband, Rafael Gimalov, bought the property where the station’s antennas, next door to the then-future Dalai Lama centre, for their own use. Some of the radio equipment is on rooftops on the property the couple bought.
According to Musy, the couple put one emitter out of commission and seriously damaged a second when they began work on the buildings, and he has had no luck in trying to discuss the problems with the owners.
Musy is now taking the couple to court to recover euros 40,000 plus interest in damages. Le Temps reports that the Russian couple are taking Musy to court as well, to get him to move the radio equipment rapidly despite a tenant’s contract that is valid until October 2011. Musy told a group of reporters that the efforts to evict overlook French legal requirements for broadcasters, which prevent any quick moves.
The new Buddhist centre opened in September 2010 and the Dalai Lama visited Friday 12 August to consecrate the new buildings.
Rafael Gimalov, as the owner of Motovilikhino factories, in turn owned by Russian investment company Rus, has made his money in arms manufacturing from a base in Perm.
He is widely reputed in Russia to have close ties to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, with Rus acting as an intermediary in, for example, a mega-deal in 2007 to bring a number of industries under state control. Putin was then president. Gimalov has been a member of the Duma, the parliament, for more than 10 years and a member of the parliamentary Science and Technology Sub-Committee on the Proliferation of Military Technology