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Russia: Last Independent Broadcast Editor Steps Down

Moscow, 26 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The chief editor of Ekho Moskvy, the last Russian independent national broadcaster, said today he will step down because of pressure from the majority shareholder, state-controlled gas giant Gazprom. Russian Interfax news agency quotes the chief editor of Ekho Moskvy, Aleksei Venediktov, as saying that a shareholders meeting has been scheduled for 31 May to appoint a new editorial management.

Venediktov said he will resign on 27 May during a meting of Ekho Moskvy journalists.

Two weeks ago, he said that Gazprom was seeking to change the station's management in an attempt to intimidate the radio.

Venediktov has announced several times in the past plans to resign, but he never did.

Gazprom owns 50 percent plus one share of Ekho Moskvy.

Ekho Moskvy is the last national media outlet with an independent editorial line toward the government of President Vladimir Putin following the recent closure of private television channel TV-6 as a result of a lawsuit by the partly state-controlled LUKoil. Another independent broadcaster, the NTV television network formerly owned by tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky, was shut down last April.