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The BBC's Andrew Clark
"There is a determination to continue independent reporting"
 real 56k

Sergei Skvortsov, rebel journalist
"We do not accept [this] as legal"
 real 28k

NTV's Chief Editor Vladimir Kulistikov
"It was not a lock out"
 real 28k

Boris Jordan, part of the new NTV management team
"There is no limitations of any kind being put on any of our editorial staff"
 real 28k

Saturday, 14 April, 2001, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Russian TV war intensifies
Dissident NTV staff  were barred from the building on Saturday
Network star Pavel Lobkov (rt) walks out with colleagues
The battle for control of Russia's only nationwide independent television network has intensified, with the new owners taking control of the building and installing their own security guards in an overnight operation.

Journalists arriving for work on Saturday were barred from entering the building unless they signed a statement agreeing to recognise the new management.


There are no limitations of any kind on editorial staff

NTV director Boris Jordan
Amid scenes of anger and mutual recrimination, dissident NTV journalists signed a collective letter of resignation and began broadcasting on a rival cable channel, TNT.

The dissident journalists claim the Kremlin is behind the NTV takeover.

The station has broadcast rare critical coverage of the war in Chechnya, as well as corruption scandals and news about the deterioration in living standards.

Gazprom says it is simply trying to recoup the company's bad debts.

Angry journalists give their version of events to the media
Journalists say the station was taken over by force
The newly-installed director of NTV, Boris Jordan - an American investment banker - said 25 journalists, half of the editorial staff, had resigned to "pursue their own interests."

He insisted that it was not an issue of freedom of the press.

"There are no limitations of any kind on editorial staff," Mr Jordan said, adding that NTV had resumed full operations at 0830 local time (0530 GMT).

But many journalists are refusing to recognise the new management team, imposed after NTV was taken over by the state-owned energy company, Gazprom.

Demonstrations

The affair has generated public support for NTV's journalists, with thousands taking to the streets in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Boris Jordan
Boris Jordan: 'No threat to freedom of speech'
With the new managers in place, leading NTV journalists took down pictures of themselves that had hung in the halls and left the building in protest.

Some technical personnel also quit.

And, in a surprise move, Oleg Dubrodeyev - a founder of NTV - resigned on Saturday as head of the state-run broadcasting company RTR.

Speaking from NTV headquarters, Mr Dobrodeyev denied that he was planning to return to work for the station.

Rival broadcasts

The first real sign of the impact of the takeover seizure of NTV's airwaves came at 8:06am (0506 GMT), when anchor Andrei Norkin was cut off in mid-sentence as he attempted to explain what had happened.

Street protest in St Petersburg
Opponents of the new management make their feelings clear
Later in the morning, the news was being read by a journalist who recognises Gazprom's authority.

Rival NTV journalists began broadcasting on TNT, a small cable TV station run by the original and now ousted NTV owner, Vladimir Gusinsky.

They are issuing news bulletins every two hours, claiming that NTV has been taken over by force.

They have been protesting since Gazprom, a major shareholder and creditor, voted out the management at a board meeting on 3 April.

On Friday, staff appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene to save the station.

NTV staff, including manager Yevgeny Kiselyov, have previously accused Mr Putin of being behind the takeover.

Mr Putin replied that, while he was against establishing state control over the channel, he could not take sides in the dispute.

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See also:

15 Apr 01 | Europe
In quotes: NTV takeover
14 Apr 01 | Europe
Analysis: The battle for NTV
13 Apr 01 | Media reports
Putin: 'NTV not my problem'
05 Apr 01 | Europe
NTV on air but protests continue
26 Mar 01 | Europe
Russian tycoon released on bail
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