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#14 - JRL 7243
BBC Monitoring
Too many cooks spoil the broth - Russian observer on TVS closure
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 0200 gmt 27 Jun 03

On 21 June Russian authorities closed down Russian TVS, replacing it with a state-owned Russia Sports TV channel. For many this was a serious blow against freedom of speech in Russia. Independent observer Yuliya Latynina speculates on the possible reasons of Russian TVS closure. Following is the text of the report by Russian Ekho Moskvy radio on 27 June:

Russian newspapers are speculating about the possible reasons for the closure of TVS. The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper has published an interview with one of TVS leading journalists, Yuliya Latynina. Asked to comment on the situation around TVS, she said the patient is still in a comatose state. The patient is breathing but with difficulty, she added. I thought that the channel would die sooner. Not for political reasons, but because too many cooks spoil the broth. It is clear now that [former] NTV existed thanks to [media tycoon Vladimir] Gusinskiy and not because unique journalists worked there. There was neither Gusinskiy nor [Rupert] Murdoch among TVS share-holders, there were no people for whom television was their own business. Their behaviour could be explained by a simple fact - they received TVS practically gratis, but they could have lost other assets because of it.

Asked whether the authorities had anything to do with the closure of the channel, Latynina said, Why should the authorities interfere if the patient has died on his own?

Rumour has it, she added that [head of energy grid Anatoliy] Chubays has gone to the president to ask for permission to buy TVS. The president allegedly answered, I'll think about it. Later [tycoon Oleg] Deripaska came to the president with the same request. Putin answered, I'll think about it.

Nothing else could be expected, not because the authorities oppose the idea of a shareholder buying TVS, but because this is their regular answer to similar questions. There is an answerphone installed at the very top, saying again and again, I'll think about it.

If this is true, then one thing is not clear. Chubays is an official, he has to ask for permission. But why should a tycoon ask for permission - that is the question. He did not ask the Kremlin whether he could buy gas. Had he asked, he would have got the same answer.

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