Over 40 television journalists employed by Ingushetia's Committee for State Radio and TV have submitted their resignations
to protest what they describe as the "unhealthy working atmosphere" under Tamara Malsagova, whom Ingushetian President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov named to head the committee last year.
The opposition website ingushetiyaru.org
has suggested that Yevkurov's spokesman, Kaloi Akhilgov, is actively seeking to discredit Malsagova because he wants her job. Akhilgov denies that he is encouraging the journalists to complain about Malsagova. Why he should want to take on her responsibilities is unclear: in a poll conducted in January by the website ingushetia.org
, 54.2 percent of the 1,582 respondents said that republican TV is "too awful to watch."
The tensions between the Ingushetian TV journalists and management surfaced on April 13, when 48 journalists declared a protest strike after their March salaries were paid with considerable delay and not in full. They returned to work two days later after Akhilgov assured them
that Yevkurov would meet with them to discuss their grievances on his return from a trip to Moscow, but then resumed their strike.
According to Malsagova, the salary shortfall was due to the failure of the All-Russian Committee for TV and Radio to make available
additional funds it had promised for the launch of programs intended to deter young people from joining the Islamic underground. And funds allocated in the initial draft of the republic's budget for 2010 were cut in the final version. She told kavkaz-uzel.ru that she tried to persuade her journalists that they did not have the moral right to go on strike, but they rejected that argument.
Yevkurov finally met with the journalists on April 23. The Russian news agency Regnum quoted him
as saying that a special commission would investigate the committee's financial problems, including the use of revenues from advertising. The journalists reportedly decided to postpone further action until the commission's findings were made public. Kavkaz-uzel.ru
quoted Malsagova as saying Yevkurov told the journalists that they "no one is forcing you to continue working here."
The standoff comes at a time when public approval of Yevkurov is dwindling. In February, 45.9 percent of respondents in another ingushetia.org online poll characterized the current situation as worse than under Yevkurov's predecessor as president, Murat Zyazikov. And in a third poll conducted on May 1-12, 46.3 percent of the 2,027 respondents said they do not trust Yevkurov and think he "is trying to dupe people." By contrast, 36.1 percent considered Yevkurov "an honest person" and said they trust him.