Russian state television canceled the reruns of a program by one of its most famous directors after he criticized the head of the nation’s largest bank.
During his show that aired May 1 on Rossia-24, Nikita Mikhalkov, who has close ties to the Kremlin, slammed Sberbank Chief Executive Officer German Gref for not having bank branches in Crimea. The same program also accused American billionaire and Microsoft founder Bill Gates of seeking to insert microchips into people.
The state channel canceled the traditional replays of his show on May 2 and May 3, causing Mikhalkov to accuse state TV of censorship in a video statement. Rossia-24 did not give a reason for the cancelations.
RIA Novosti, a state-run news agency, called the nearly 50-minute show a “conspiracy extravaganza” in which the topics of Gates’ supposed plans to microchip people, Nazi SS leader Heinrich Himmler, and the absence of Sberbank branches in Crimea were included.
Russian state television had previously aired programs containing baseless accusations that Gates was seeking to install microchips containing a coronavirus vaccine in people:
The author of the Telegram channel Katarsis said the reason the state withdrew the show is because of the bad light it sheds on Gref, who has led Sberbank for 13 years. Gref has been credited with revamping the once stodgy lender, turning it into a Russian leader in online and mobile banking.
No major Russian banks operate in Crimea, which the Kremlin forcibly annexed in 2014, due to the threat of U.S. sanctions.
The Katarsis author said Mikhalkov is a figure whom many Russians respect and pointed out that two officials he previously attacked -- Emergency Minister Vladimir Puchkov and Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky -- lost their posts.
“Let’s see how the fate of German Oskarovich [Gref] develops,” the author said.