"Our network has always been like a bone in the throat of the authorities," said NTV war correspondent Yevgeny Kirichenko. "Now it seems the Kremlin's patience has run out."
Gazprom-Media is confused by this attempt by NTV representatives to circumvent normal legal procedures," Gazprom-Media spokeswoman Aelita Yefimova was quoted by Interfax as saying. "We consider this demand to be a provocation."
NTV countered that its main goal is to institute a three-month moratorium on any management changes. Such a proposal was first brought up by NTV founder Vladimir Gusinsky early last week.
"It is my sincere hope that the journalists and employees of NTV — who comprise the true value of this company —remain patient and calm while we work to finalize a transaction that will ensure the long-term independence of their network," Turner said in a statement released Friday.
We have come away with a lot of information that needs to be digested," said Brian Faw, Turner's spokesman. "We hope to meet again in the coming week."
"In three to four months, we will either have a deal or we won't," Kokh said. "The deal involves Gusinsky, Gazprom and Turner," Turner spokesman Faw confirmed by telephone from New York. "Turner is determined to sign it when all three parties agree."
Kokh disapproved of the way Turner is running the show, saying that the American doesn't understand the "reality of Russian politics" and that a statement issued Thursday by the U.S. State Department was only making matters worse.
The United States is convinced that independent media are essential to democracy in Russia as in any other nation, "State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
``You are our voice,'' a defiant Kiselyov told the rain-drenched crowd to cheers. ``We will never give up on you.''
"The journalists' position is clear. We do not recognize the change in management and we do not recognize you, "presenter Mariana Maximovskaya told Kokh.
At least we have started a dialogue," Kokh said after the meeting, at which around a dozen journalists pressed him on his stance on editorial policy and the future of the station.
Gazprom says the fight over NTV is purely financial, as it was owed millions of dollars by the television company.
"We are watching media developments and press freedom with concern, in particular with events surrounding NTV," a German government official told journalists in Berlin.
''I'd like to draw attention to measures necessary to ... increase transparency and efficiency at Gazprom,'' Putin said Monday at a Cabinet meeting, portions of which were broadcast on NTV. ''I would like work in this sphere to assume a new dynamic.''
Putin says he backs free speech, but has accused the commercial press of working "against the state". ''Putin once again, even more clearly than ever before, declared that for him and for the government, the functioning of democratic institutions in the country, including retaining free media, is very important,'' the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the head of a group of NTV advisors, told reporters.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine may face new problems over the upgraded Russian unmanned aerial vehicle Lancet. Kyiv will now need to use airfields far from the line of combat contact and look for new ways to protect its aircraft