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Russia: NTV Staff To Continue Broadcasts Despite Takeover

Moscow, 15 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Rebel staff from Russia's NTV network say they will continue to broadcast following the takeover of Russia's sole independent television station by Russia's state-dominated gas giant Gazprom. Managers appointed by Gazprom yesterday changed security guards at NTV and told staff to sign a letter of commitment to them or resign. Boris Jordan, the American put in charged of NTV by Gazprom, said his team was in full charge of the channel and would make it free of outside influence. He said there was what he called "tremendous enthusiasm to rebuild" NTV.

But rebel staff from Russia's NTV private television channel said today that around 350 journalists and technicians have resigned to protest the takeover. They have begun preparing to broadcast their own version of NTV via TNT television. The cable television station also belongs to NTV's beleaguered founder Vladimir Gusinsky. The rebel staff said their broadcasts will continue for two months as plans are drawn up to create a new independent network.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Russian Service late yesterday, Media-MOST Chairman Vladimir Gusinsky said NTV has ceased to exist after the departure of its leading journalists. Also yesterday, NTV's advisory council said it will suspend its activities to protest against the new management.

Ousted NTV chief Yevgeny Kiselyov announced that Russian business magnate Boris Berezovsky had offered a three-year deal putting him and NTV rebels in charge of Berezovsky's TV-6, following a shareholder meeting later this year. Reuters reports TV-6 broadcasts to 69 Russian cities.