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January 23, 2003
Gazprom surprises media with new NTV boss
By Natalia Rostova

A new director has been appointed to the NTV television channel on the personal orders of the head of Russias gas giant Gazprom, replacing dismissed US millionaire Boris Jordan. The appointment came as a surprise the new general director is Nikolai Senkevich the son of one of Russias most famous TV presenters Yuri Senkevich.

Gazeta.Ru has learned that the Gazprom executive Nikolai Senkevich whose father also made a name for himself by travelling together with Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdal is not just the son of a presenter. He himself has hosted the discussion program ''Ochen Dalnee Podmoskovie'' (Very Remote Parts of the Moscow Region) on the regional Moskovia channel.

But this was just a small step in the young Senkevichs many-sided career. In his time he has gained a medical education and even a doctors degree. For some time he was engaged in human rights activities and over the last few years he has worked in Gazprom under Aleksander Dybal, the chairman of the board of directors of Gazprom-Media, overseeing the media assets of the natural gas monopoly. Senkevich held the position of deputy department chief in charge of the companys information policy and was also a secretary of the board of directors. As Dybal has left and became the general director of Gazprom Media, his subordinate Senkevich was promoted.

The decision to appoint Nikolai Senkevich as the head of NTV was taken personally by Gazprom head Aleksei Miller. As our source in the company said, while presenting the new boss to the companys staff, Miller mentioned that he had worked together with Senkevich for the last year and maintains that he knows the media market well enough, as well as the situation in Gazproms media concerns. Miller also said he was sure that the new appointee was capable of effectively managing NTV.

Being asked what was more predominant in him a creative person or a manager Senkevich answered: ''I am a manager, of course.''

To a question from Gazeta.Ru why he did not head NTV personally, the new boss of Gazprom-Media Aleksander Dybal replied that he considered working in two jobs ineffective, at least on the current stage. He explained that as NTV was one of the holdings largest companies, it must be controlled by the head of the holding, as combining jobs leads to a ''conflict of interests''.

Nikolai Senkevich personally confirmed to our correspondent that he had received an offer to head NTV personally from Aleksei Miller. He outlined the main tasks from the shareholders as: the channel should maintain and develop its role as a private, commercial station, and no restrictions are to be put on the freedom of speech.

''I personally guarantee that there will be no restrictions on the freedom of speech at the channel. I cannot see it any other way. And that was also a condition. The channel must retain its leading position in the Russian information sector, which it has held in recent years,'' Senkevich said. The third task is to preserve the team of specialists who work for the channel. Senkevich described the NTV team as the best in the country.

Being asked how he personally explains the appointment, Senkevich said: ''This was the chairmans decision.'' And when the reporters asked him of his fathers reaction, Senkevich answered: ''You wont believe it, but I havent talked to him by phone yet. He probably knows everything already, but I know nothing of his reaction.''

The new boss will get down to work on Thursday, but formally one month is needed for official approval at the next meeting of the companys board of directors. NTVs journalists are trying to remain calm. One presenter, who asked us not to disclose his name, said: ''Jordan also had no experience in television.'' The previous NTV general director remained at the post for one year and nine months.

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