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TV Journalists In Ingushetia Resign En Masse

The standoff comes as Ingushetian President Yunus-bek Yevkurov has seen his popularity plummet.

The standoff comes as Ingushetian President Yunus-bek Yevkurov has seen his popularity plummet.

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 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, 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 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. 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 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.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.