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Russian Telejournalist Suspended For On-Air Sarcasm

8 December 2004 -- Leading Russian television presenter Aleksei Pivovarov was suspended today from the NTV channel's flagship news program after making sarcastic comments on air about the sacking of a journalist.

Pivovarov's suspension comes after the sacking earlier this year of journalist Leonid Parfyonov for publicly objecting to his NTV managers' role in editorial decisions.

Pivovarov anchored the evening news show "Strana i Mir" created by Parfyonov.

NTV was rigorously independent in the 1990s, but its coverage became more muted after it was taken over by state-controlled gas firm Gazprom in 2001.

Pivovarov was suspended for saying yesterday that Parfyonov's sacking was an NTV manager's "personal contribution to the history of Russian television."