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#13 - JRL 8388 - JRL Home
September 30, 2004
Russian TV Pundit Pozner Resigns Over Mounting Pressure on Media

Vladimir Pozner, a highly respected media figure and president of the Television Academy, resigned from the federal commission on tenders ­ an agency that allocates television and radio frequencies ­ in a move seen as his refusal to succumb to pressure exerted by the authorities on Russian media.

In comments for the Kommersant Daily, the journalist said there were two reasons for his resignation. In the new makeup of the commission, he had been the only remaining member not representing the state, which meant that “the state had expressed its mistrust in the work of my colleagues, which made me feel embarrassed”, Pozner explained.

The second reason, the journalist said, was a conflict of interests: Pozner is a shareholder in Radio 7, so he had to abstain from voting when radio frequencies were discussed.

Vladimir Pozner rose to prominence as a talented daring journalist years ago, and is seen by many of his fans and supporters as the pioneer of free media in Russia.

Earlier this month the Television Academy, headed by Pozner for several years, gave top awards to three programs that had recently been banned from the country’s airwaves. The Academy’s decision is seen by many as a protest over the government’s alleged interference in the freedom of the media.

The news analysis Namedni, the Krasnaya Strela political satire program and Svoboda Slova (Freedom of Speech) talk show each won prestigious TEFI prizes. Vladimir Pozner said that the votes in favor of the banned programs were also “protest votes”.

A special prize was also given to Leonid Parfionov, the host of Namedni, who was fired a few months ago after attempting to air an interview with the widow of a Chechyen separatist killed last summer in Qatar.