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Russia2 June 2004

NTV journalist sacked and programme dropped

NTV journalist Leonid Parfenov was sacked on 1 June and his weekly programme dropped by the TV station. Management said he had broken his contract by not keeping to the station’s editorial line. He had told the media that an earlier decision to limit broadcasting of the programme had been taken "at the request of the security services." An interview with the widow of former Chechen President Zelimkhan Iandarbiev and a report on the trial of two Russian agents accused of killing him were not broadcast in western Russia.


01/06/04

Reporters Without Borders expressed concern today about cancellation by TV station NTV of an interview with the widow of former Chechen President Zelimkhan Iandarbiev and a report on the trial of two Russian agents accused of killing him.

"In view of the total censorship of all news of any kind about Chechnya, we are concerned about this latest move by NTV," it said, noting the station was taken over by the government in 2001.

The weekly programme "Namedni" was broadcast in eastern Russia on 30 May but banned from being shown in European Russia by the deputy head of the station, Alexander Gerassimov. NTV spokesman Grigory Simanovich said it was a "company decision," but the programme’s presenter, Leonid Parfenov, said his superior had acted "at the request of the security services."

The incident was reported by the weekly Kommersant, which reproduced an internal NTV note announcing the cancellation. The interview contained no new political material. Mrs Malika Iandarbieva described the physical appearance of one of the Russian defendants and recited a poem written by her husband.

Iandarbiev was assassinated in Qatar in February this year and two Russians, suspected of being secret policemen, are on trial in Qatar, where the Iandarbievs had lived since the second Chechen war began in 1999.

NTV chief Nikolai Senkevich had cancelled a broadcast of "Namedni" in the Moscow region a few hours before it was due to go out on 17 November 2003. The programme featured a book about the Kremlin since President Vladimir Putin had come to power, written by journalist Elena Tregubova. Senkevich said nobody forced him to drop the programme and that the book was too crude for the programme. Tregubova and "Namedni" editor Andrei Shilov said it was a political move.

The state firm Gazprom took control in April 2001 of NTV, flagship of the Media-Most group and until then the only independent nationwide TV station in the Russian Federation.




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