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    Russian mobile operator MTS hit by $50 mln back tax claim

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    MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), Russia's largest cell phone operator, said on Tuesday it had received back tax claims totaling 1.13 billion rubles (around $49 billion).

    The Federal Tax Service's claims on the company for 2005-2006, including penalties and fines, relate mostly to inter-operator settlements, MTS said.

    The company intends to challenge the tax claim in a court of law.

    The Tax Service has filed similar back tax claims for VimpelCom, Russia's second largest cell phone company operating under the Beeline brand, and Sonic Duo, a subsidiary of mobile operator MegaFon.

    VimpelCom faces a tax bill of around $54 million (excluding penalties and fines) for 2005-2006, while MegaFon has been hit by a claim of 442 million rubles ($19 million).

    Both companies have said they will contest the claims.

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