NTV journalists and the channel’s ousted general director, Yevgeny Kiselev, reached an agreement yesterday with Alfred Kokh to set up a negotiating commission to try and find a compromise solution to their dispute. Kokh is the head of Gazprom-Media who was named head of NTV’s board of directors after a Gazprom-led hostile takeover of the channel earlier this week. The decision followed Kokh’s visit to the NTV offices at Moscow’s Ostankino television center. NTV journalists continue to insist that they will neither recognize nor take orders from the management team Gazprom-Media installed this week, including American businessman Boris Jordan, who replaced Kiselev as the channel’s general director, and Vladimir Kulistikov, who was named the channel’s chief editor. Last week, the journalists elected Kiselev as chief editor–a move which Gazprom-Media says was illegal. During their meeting yesterday with Kokh, they insisted that they would recognize only Kiselev as the channel’s general director and chief editor, and would resign en masse if he were replaced.
Kokh, for his part, indicated yesterday that Kiselev’s reinstatement was not a possibility. However, he did indicate that Gazprom-Media might reconsider the appointment of Kulistikov–the former NTV deputy director who went on to head the state’s RIA news agency–as chief editor and Kiselev’s reinstatement in that post. In any case, Kiselev said yesterday that in an effort to resolve the conflict, the two sides had agreed to set a up a negotiating commission consisting of ten representatives from each side, and that decisions of the commission would be mandatory and final. The meeting between Kokh and the NTV team was at times heated, with Kokh putting forward the Gazprom argument that NTV was the tool of “one shareholder,” Media-Most chief Vladimir Gusinsky, and the NTV side arguing the Kokh is a tool of the Kremlin. Yesterday’s meeting followed Gazprom-Media’s rejection of a proposal from the NTV journalists that personnel changes be postponed for three months and that CNN founder Ted Turner, who has reached an agreement with Gusinsky on buying shares in Media-Most, be allowed to take part in the appointments (see the Monitor, April 5). Meanwhile, Gazprom-Media representatives went to NTV’s offices to deliver a letter to Kiselev asking that he hand over the channel’s official documentation and official stamp to Jordan. Kiselev said that he would not do so (Russian agencies, NTV, April 5-6; Segodnya, Kommersant, Moscow Times, April 6).
NTV REGULAR BROADCASTING RESUMES, BUT SITUATION STILL TENSE.