Russian public worried by the intention of the former NTV leadership to cede the company to foreign media capital

"The conflict situation over the procedure of the change of owners and management of a private channel, NTV, and the aspirations of a group of staff members of the channel are producing negative public repercussions," says the statement of the public, signed by over 30 prominent cultural figures, writers, military and public leaders, which was provided to RIA Novosti on April 6.

The statement says that "the former NTV leaders, who brought the company to what amounts to bankruptcy and are doing their best to keep their incomes are using improper arguments and methods" in their struggle, which is "violating the rights of TV audiences deprived of the possibility to watch their favourite programmes." The initiators of the conflict, says the statement, "want to conceal the genuine reason for the scandal, which is the striving of the former leadership to hand NTV over to foreign media capital behind the back of a certain part of co-owners.

Against this background, the participation in the propaganda campaign of some irresponsible politicians, who are calling for a "national purity" of the channel, looks hypocritical. This is only fanning irritation and intolerance in society. The situation is unpleasant also because the former owners of the channel are trying to use journalists and NTV staff by playing on their fears of losing their jobs." "Using the situation at NTV for personal reasons, a small group of supporters of Mr. Gusinsky have openly gone over from blackmailing the state to blackmailing society, trying to involve in this economic conflict representatives of the bodies of authority, political parties and movements and power departments," says the statement. "These attempts, although unsuccessful, are still doing damage to stability in society and must be stopped immediately."