Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 225

In what has become an almost regular weekly feature, Zerkalo–the weekly news analysis program on RTR state television–broadcast a lengthy interview with Putin yesterday evening. In it, the prime minister said that he supported “smooth amicable relations with all countries of the West and the East,” but added that “if the price of… a relationship… with a particular partner is the break-up of our state, then what do we need such relations for?” Perhaps the most interesting moment of the interview came at the end. In responding to a comment by Zerkalo host Nikolai Svanidze that he, Putin, had acquired many friends and many enemies during his time in office, the prime minister wound up his thoughts by saying: “As the chairman of the government [of] a large country, I must, of course, have enemies. But they are not my personal enemies, they are enemies of Russia” (RTR, December 5).

Meanwhile, Sergei Dorenko, the host of the weekly news analysis program on Russian Public Television (ORT), devoted much of his airtime, as usual, to attacking Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. On December 3, a Moscow court found in favor of Luzhkov in a libel suit which he brought against Dorenko and ORT for material broadcast by Dorenko in September and October, including the accusation that Luzhkov was worth US$300-400 million. While Luzhkov had asked for 450 million rubles (approximately US$17 million) in damages, the court ordered ORT to pay him 50,000 rubles (about US$1900) and Dorenko to pay him 100,000 rubles (about US$3800). Luzhkov said that he would sue Dorenko again, for other allegedly slanderous television reports not covered in his first suit (Russian agencies, December 3).

On his program last night, Dorenko, among other things, accused Luzhkov’s lawyer of being a scientologist. He also devoted a segment to the civil case brought last week in Arizona by the family of Paul Tatum, who was murdered in 1996 after a long legal battle with the Moscow city government over ownership of Moscow’s Radisson-Slavyanskaya Hotel (ORT, December 5). The suit charges that Luzhkov was responsible for Tatum’s murder. Asked last Friday whether he would travel to Arizona for the court hearings, Luzhkov answered: “Do you think I have gone mad or something?” (Russian agencies, December 3).