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Pro-Kremlin NTV Drops Journalist After On-Air Criticism Of Putin

Konstantin Goldentsvaig, a Berlin-based reporter for NTV, speaking on the German public television station Phoenix during the Group of Seven (G7) summit in southern Germany.

A correspondent with Kremlin-allied NTV television says he was dropped by the network after he described Russian President Vladimir Putin as "cynical" and deviated from the Russian government's narrative of the Ukraine conflict in an interview with a German state broadcaster.

Konstantin Goldentsvaig, a Berlin-based reporter for NTV, said on his Facebook page that he had become fed up working for the network, which he accused of disseminating "propaganda," and informed his bosses in March that he planned to quit.

But he said NTV released him early from his contract this week after his June 8 interview with the German public television station Phoenix during the Group of Seven (G7) summit in southern Germany.

In the interview, Goldentsvaig said he believed Putin feels "insulted" that Russia was expelled from the G7 last year for its intervention in Ukraine. Kyiv and Western countries accuse Moscow of backing separatists in a deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine, a charge the Kremlin denies despite evidence of direct military involvement.

The journalist also veered sharply from the Kremlin position on the conflict, saying Putin "has a great interest in having the situation [in Ukraine] remain unstable as long as possible, because Moscow profits from this."

By the following morning, NTV "decided (or it was decided for them) that it is saying goodbye to me today, and not in a few weeks as had been planned," he wrote on June 9 on Facebook, where he spells his name Goldenzweig.

Western officials and Kremlin critics have accused the Russian state-controlled media of spreading propaganda, deceptive reporting, and outright fabrications in its coverage of the Ukraine conflict, which the United Nations says has killed more than 6,400 people since April 2014.

Russian officials and Kremlin loyalists accuse the Western media of complicity in a broader information war against Russia that they say is being waged by the United States and the EU.

NTV had not given a formal statement on Goldentsvaig's exit as of June 10. But in an apparent dig at the correspondent's description of the network as a propaganda tool, the network posted a video on its website featuring a montage of his reporting largely favorable to Russia and the Kremlin.

The NTV video was titled Goodbye, Kostya! -- a reference to the common Russian diminutive for Konstantin.

NTV, part of state-controlled media behemoth Gazprom-Media, is staunchly supportive of Putin and Russia's actions in Ukraine. It has also produced numerous so-called documentaries aiming to undermine the credibility of Kremlin critics.

Prominent Russian liberal opposition figures have asked U.S. lawmakers to slap sanctions on NTV director Vladimir Kulistikov and other pro-Kremlin TV personalities and executives they accuse of conducting a media vilification campaign that helped lead to the killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Writing on his Facebook page, Goldentsvaig asked for forgiveness for his "recent participation in the collective propaganda madness."

"The only good thing about deals with one's own conscience is that you can tear them up. Just like any labor contract, even the most comfortable. Long live personal hygiene, hooray," he wrote.

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