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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Russian Orthodox TV launched
By Tatyana Gonik
BBC News, Moscow

Spas TV channel emblem
The channel is broadcasting news, analysis and talk shows
A new satellite television channel aimed at promoting Russian Orthodox Church values has been launched in Moscow.

"Spas" (Saviour) is funded by private investors and there is no direct sign of any state support for it.

Alexander Dugin, a philosopher who will present a political analysis programme on Spas, says Russia has long needed such a channel.

"Today Russian television entertains people and that means it tears society apart," he says.

"I'm convinced that entertainment is a very negative and useless thing. It corrodes individual identity, society's identity and finally the whole country's identity. Russia was amused - and as a result Russians have got lost."

Lost identity

Another presenter on the channel, Russian parliament deputy Natalia Narochnitskaya, also says she is eager to help Russians rediscover their sense of identity, unite and understand what is going on.

Managing editor Ivan Demidov
Managing editor Ivan Demidov wants patriotic advertising
"Unfortunately today we are alienated. Instead of being a nation we've become simply a population. And I feel people are waiting for something that can bring them together as in the old days, to feel a profound sense of our history and nation," she says.

Journalists asked the Spas presenters if they were concerned that the new channel might offend other faiths in Russia, such as Muslims or Jews.

Dmitri Smirnov, a priest who will co-present the programme "Russian Hour", said nobody was stopping other faiths setting up their own TV channels as well.

"In Russia 84% of the population say they are Russians and Orthodox. But we're not preventing anybody creating something else. If there were another TV channel, for example called "Islam", I don't think it would be a big problem. I would watch it myself with great interest," he said.

The managers of Spas say they have been looking for advertisers. But the list of products that can be advertised on the channel is limited.

Spas managing editor Ivan Demidov explains that "if for example there was an ad for milk and another ad for crisps, and one was filmed on a beach, while the other was filmed in a village, we would prefer to take the latter. I don't think we could permit ourselves to show a beach on our channel".

He started his career on Russian TV as presenter of a musical variety show 15 years ago.

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