A REN-TV promotional photo of Olga Romanova (official website)
25 November 2005 -- A well-known Russian television news anchor has been taken off the air in what she today said was a case of censorship.
Olga Romanova -- the anchor of REN-TV's program"24" -- said security guards at REN-TV blocked her from entering the premises last night.
The station had a reputation covering topics that were at times critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but its ownership changed in September, when a 35 percent stake in the company was sold to Surgutneftgaz. At the time of the sale, Aleksei Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies noted that Surgutneftgaz is widely perceived as close to the St. Petersburg "siloviki" in the entourage of President Vladimir Putin.
Romanova said the station's general director told her she could no longer host the program because her ratings had dropped and that hosting the show five times a week was bad for her health.
Igor Yakovenko of the Russian Union of Journalists said the decision to take Romanova off the air was censorship.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev described the incident as "a clarion call that tells us that we have lost the last station that kept even a little independence and objectivity."