Infighting within NTV overshadows support rally

A scandal over the NTV nation-wide television network and the alleged infringement of the freedom of speech in Russia is mounting. It has patently been blown up out of proportion and acquired grotesque shapes. In other words, it is turning into a farce. So far, NTV staff and management have boasted of their cohesion. Now, sings of infighting start to show there. Leonid Parfyonov, one of NTV top managers, has written an open letter to Yevgeni Kiselyov, the dismissed director general of the channel, full of erratic statements – the letter was published in the Kommersant newspaper today, on April 7th. “Zhenya, I think it is better for me to appeal to you in writing – the more so that I have strained my voice debating with Maksimovski as far back as on April 3d,” this is how the epistle starts. Mr. Parfyonov reproaches Mr. Kiselyov with usurping power in the company. “I cannot stay being ignored in decision making any more,” Mr. Parfyonov complains. “You treat people as cannon fodder, young kids are held hostages by you because they know no other thing than being tied to the Itogi programme. Therefore, what you are doing is corrupting the minors,” contends Mr. Parfyonov. “So, you can hold this as my resignation. I am going - nowhere,” Mr. Parhyonov concludes. All in all, it was quite a bitter pill to swallow for the dismissed director general pending an NTV-supporting rally currently in progress in Moscow near the Ostankino television centre. The rally is organized by the Journalists’ Union of Russia, liberal Union of Right Forces and Yabloko parties and some other related structures. It also became known today that US entrepreneur Ted Turner is serious about acquiring 30% of the NTV shares for as little as $60-70m. As one commentator has put it, it would be enough to show him a footage of a 3-hour talk of Alfred Kokh, newly elected chairman of board, with NTV journalists as April 5th to discourage him to do so. It is said that the journalists demonstrated there many things which were not for faint-hearted…

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