A row around the NTV nationwide television network has reached a critical stage. Yesterday, at 20:00 Moscow time, Yevgeni Kiselyov, the station’s chief, went on the air with an extraordinary issue of the Itogi programme. Immediately after it, irreconcilable journalists (others have already defected to other channels, largely to the Kremlin-controlled RTR) gathered together – they expected a possible attack on the NTV office by police. The jounalists decided to organize a round-a-clock live broadcasting from all the corridors of the building. Luckily, the night passed off peacefully, and the wearied journalists could finally have rest. In a protest move, the channel will only broadcast news. The row broke off yesterday when NTV’s new board of directors elected Alfred Kokh chairman – Mr. Kokh is also director general of the Gazprom-Media company. At the same meeting, entrepreneur Boris Jordan was elected NTV’s director general, while Vladimir Kulistikov, CEO at the RIA-Vesti company, was elected NTV’s editor-in-chief. NTV journalists, headed by Yeveni Kiselyov, the dismissed director general, vigorously protested against the above meeting’s results. Mr. Kiselyov is sure to represent the interests of Vladimir Gusinski who is pining in Spain. Now, Mr. Kiselyov has found himself in a delicate position – Mr. Gusinski failed to defend himself, he has virtually spat on NTV staff, and sold his share in NTV and in Media-MOST for $225m to a group of investors headed by Ted Turner. So, Mr. Gusinski has backed out, and NTV journalists’ protest now makes no sense. If Mr. Gusinski’s arrest could be regarded as an infringement of the freedom of speech, the arrival of Mr. Turner can hardly be interpreted so. In the meantime, the action of protest is in progress. It looks like the NTV journalists have not realized in full what happened. Anyway, the new board will hardly put up with the journalists’ disobedience, so massive layoffs of Mr. Gusinski’s irreconcilable supporters are to follow.
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