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New York Times
December 2, 2001
On Russian TV, More of the Same
By Celestine Bohlen

Politics, greed and revenge. Ask any observer of the Russian media what is behind the death of a the Moscow television station, TV 6, and one or all of the above will probably come up.

TV 6 became a refuge for a team of respected journalists who last spring left NTV, which was described as the country's last independent national television channel. But it wasn't; TV 6 was.

True, there are a few independently financed national networks that thrive on imported game shows and soap operas, and scores of regional stations offering a range of political views. But none is expected to become a national network that can offer an alternative to the four channels (including NTV) whose loyalty to the Kremlin can be measured by the government support they get.

President Vladimir V. Putin is almost certainly delighted to see the ouster of Boris A. Berezovsky, the oligarch who had a majority share in TV 6, just as he was eager to get rid of Vladimir V. Gusinsky, the owner of NTV. But Kremlin politics wasn't the only force at work. Mikhail Lesin, Russia's minister of press and information, bore a well-known dislike of the former NTV team. Then there was the feud between Mr. Berezovsky and his partner at TV 6, Vagit Alekperov, the president of Lukoil, the oil company whose pension fund put the network into bankruptcy court. And there is always the chance that someone is looking to buy a bankrupt company cheaply.

"I cannot understand who wants what," said Anya Kachkaeva, a professor of journalism at Moscow State university. "No one will be better from this. And no one is ever thinking of the viewer not the authorities, not the courts, not the owners."

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