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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Journalists screen their own protest
Crowd outside NTV
Crowd rallies outside NTV to defend freedom of speech
Viewers of Russia's only nationwide independent TV channel, NTV, are being left in no doubt about the crisis.

The TV has dropped its normal programmes in favour of hourly newscasts updating the frantic behind-the-scenes moves by the new management to win round the station's journalists and support staff.

And the station's NTV logo has been overlaid in red capital letters spelling out the word "protest".

After staging an all-night vigil following news of the take-over by state-dominated Gazprom, the NTV staff waited all morning for the station's newly-appointed managers to arrive.

NTV newsreader Marianna Maximovskaya preparing for broadcast
NTV's bulletins have given updates on the crisis
Crowds of journalists packed the network's entrance on the eighth floor of Moscow's TV centre. They had been joined by a group of deputies from Russia's Lower House of Parliament, who had come to express their solidarity.

Each time the lift doors opened, the huge crowd oozed forward, fighting to see just who would appear - and whether the new managers would arrive, as they had said they would.

One of the station's flagship news presenters, Andrey Norkin, rejected the station's "anti-state" label.

It was Russia's scandals which were anti-state, he said, and not NTV's reporting of them.

If pressure is put on me to influence editorial policy, I will resign

New Director-General Boris Jordan
"The main submarine of the navy is sinking and the authorities, for bureaucratic reasons, refuse to accept international assistance to rescue the crew of the sinking submarine," Mr Norkin said, referring to last year's sinking of the Kursk nuclear-powered submarine.

"That is an anti-state position."

Journalists are still saying they will not work with the new management.

New boss hits back

Head of that new management is US investment banker Boris Jordan, who had promised to take control of the channel first thing Wednesday morning - but failed to appear.

Boris Jordan
Jordan: Promises no editorial interference
He did, however, give a news conference to dismiss fears that freedom of speech was in jeopardy.

"I want to tell you this up front," he told a news conference. "If pressure is put on me as director-general - whether by the authorities or the shareholders - to influence editorial policies, I will hand in my resignation immediately.

"I am a US citizen. I grew up in a country with freedom of speech and independent television channels. This is my life's principle. Under my management this will never change."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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10 Feb 01 | Europe
Russia TV saga rumbles on
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