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NTV journalists protest...

NTV's Executive Board voted unanimously on 30 January to express its lack of confidence in the station's new director, Nikolai Senkevich, Interfax reported. According to "Vremya novostei" on 31 January, the catalyst for the move was Senkevich's appointment of 35-year-old Aleksei Zemskii as NTV's first deputy director. Popular NTV host Leonid Parfenov said he and many others know Zemskii as the producer of "entertainment programs." "How this person can direct an information service is not understandable. The first deputy for broadcasting at NTV is first of all an information-service director," Parfenov told the daily. The journalists said Senkevich is "totally unsuited for his position," ITAR-TASS reported. NTV Editor in Chief Tatyana Mitkova told Interfax that when a company's staff expresses no confidence in the management, "either [the staff] or the management has to leave." Mitkova was also quoted as saying there will be "no strikes or revolutions on the air." However, on 30 January, Mitkova failed to appear in her normal slot as the anchor of the evening news, and journalist Kirill Pozdnyakov reported the Executive Board's decision in her stead.

...as management stands firm

NTV senior management on 30 January issued a press release saying the company does not have an "executive board" and, therefore, the vote of no confidence in Senkevich is not valid, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Newly appointed Gazprom-Media General Director Aleksandr Dybal also expressed this opinion. Gazprom-Media owns NTV. Dybal declared his complete confidence in Zemskii, saying there can be no doubts about his professional competence, newsru.com reported on 31 January. The disputed NTV Executive Board the same day issued an open letter to Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller that states the station "is on the brink of a crisis" and appeals for him to intervene. Copies of the letter were sent to the Media Ministry and President Vladimir Putin's administration. Newsru.com quoted Mitkova as saying the situation cannot be resolved "without interference from above."

(RFE/RL 31.i.03)

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