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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Television Station Fires 2 Maverick Journalists

Two popular television journalists have been taken off the air by Ostankino television in a further indication that the government is restricting the broadcast of alternate viewpoints.


The directors of Ostankino said in a statement released Tuesday and read on the news show Novosti that they "consider further professional collaboration with Alexander Lyubimov and Alexander Politkovsky to be inexpedient".


The reason given for the action was a program aired during the storming of the television offices on Oct. 3 when Lyubimov and Politkovsky told viewers "to go home and go to bed". Their statement came shortly after First Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar called on citizens to rally to the defense of the Mossoviet building in central Moscow.


The program provoked a strong negative reaction among many Muscovites, who felt that the irreverent tone of the broadcaster's message was not in keeping with the seriousness of the events being discussed.


Lyubimov is host of "Krasny Kvadrat" a popular talk show that seeks to provide a wide range of views on topics of interest. Politkovsky hosts "Politburo", in which he interviews various public figures, including, recently, former Vice President Alexander Rutskoi.


Oleg Migunov, director of international programming for the Vid television company, which produces the two shows, said in a telephone interview that the uproar over the program was just a pretext to get rid of the two journalists.


"This decision was made by people who were not there that night, who did not understand the situation. It was a purely political decision".


Lyubimov said in a telephone interview, "Everything was clear long before the events in the White House. The directors of Ostankino are trying to get rid of everyone who might present a point of view other than what the president wants".


He added that he and Politkovsky had been accused by Ostankino of being "the ideologues of the rebellion" by allowing those who disagreed with the president to appear on their shows.


An Ostankino official, who asked not to be identified, said "There is no doubt that the Oct. 3 program was used as a pretext to get rid of the two journalists".


The move against the two journalists follows sharp limitations on access to television by the opposition after President Boris Yeltsin dissolved parliament last month.


Lyubimov and Politkovsky are best known for the news program "Vzglyad", which began in 1987 and brought a new standard of openness to Soviet television. "Vzglyad" was removed from the airwaves in 1990 for excessively frank political commentary, and went underground with distribution to provincial channels until it was terminated shortly after the 1991 coup attempt.