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I Want My NTV
Battle Continues for Russia's Independent Network

April 13, 2001

M O S C O W, April 13 The morning shift at Russia's NTV was turned away from the studio's early Saturday morning, signaling that the Russian government is now in control of the nation's only independent television network.

When staff arrived around 4 a.m. Moscow time, a new set of security guards said the NTV employees would not be admitted, two of the station's reporters told ABCNEWS.

No violence was reported.

The day's first newscast is not scheduled until later this morning so it is unclear how the apparent takeover will be explained or how objectively information will be presented.

The transfer of control would be a direct result of a dispute between Gazprom, the state-controlled energy monopoly, and Media-Most, a private media conglomerate.

Gazprom officials said on Jan. 25 that their firm had won control of the independent network because it owned 46 percent of the company, the largest single share. A court in Moscow effectively awarded majority ownership of the station to the energy monopoly.

"This is not going to cause any major disruption," said Sergiusz Morenc, ABCNEWS' Moscow bureau chief. "A few thousand people may come out and voice their support [for NTV] but my view is that people won't be up in arms."

An American Takes Over

On Friday, NTV's news director, American financier Boris Jordan, urged the station's journalists to stop blocking him from reaching his office.

"Yesterday, I received a stamp [official authorization] and I am entitled to lead the financial activities of the TV company," Jordan said at a news conference Friday. "All the banks have been informed and they know that all the payments that are going to be done without my signature will be illegal."

Jordan, who is of Russian descent, said he tried repeatedly to "arrange a dialogue" with Yevgeny Kiselyov, the station's former general director, but that Kiselyov refused to meet with him.

"He [Kiselyov] tries to provoke a situation at the channel whereby we would have to take it over by force. And I say again, this will not happen," Jordan said. The new NTV executive said he would not interfere in the network's editorial policy nor would he make major changes in programming.

Gazprom has claimed that if it was being forced to take over the station to protect its investment in the company, which Gazprom officials said is financially troubled.

ABCNEWS Sergiusz Morenc contributed to this report.

See also:

The original at http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/russia_NTV010413.html

NTV Case

April 13, 2001

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