. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nevzorov's TV Future Shrouded in Doubt

Alexander Nevzorov, the bad-boy journalist, television personality and parliamentarian, may be minus one outlet for his special brand of grim nationalist reportage: Izvestia daily newspaper has reported that Nevzorov's "Dni" (Days), arguably one of the most controversial programs on ORT, has been pulled off the air.

ORT spokeswoman Svetlana Svetitskaya declined to confirm the fact and said Nevzorov is on a two-month vacation at his own request. Nevzorov's lawyer, Yelena Nechepurenko said "Dni" would be back on the air Aug. 24.

In its Saturday edition, Izvestia linked the move to the sacking of Alexander Korzhakov, President Boris Yeltsin's powerful bodyguard. Korzhakov, the paper said, was Nevzorov's main protector, and his departure left the controversial journalist vulnerable. Nechepurenko, however, denied the connection.

Rumors about Nevzorov's dismissal coincided with the finding by the President's Judicial Chamber for Information Disputes that Nevzorov was guilty of incitement of ethnic hatred, which is a criminal charge in Russia. The charges were filed by Alavdin Gardaloyev, deputy presidential representative of the Chechen Republic, based on material shown on "Dni" on May 11 and June 1, 1996.

The programs included reports showing Russian paratroopers brandishing the sun-cured ears of Chechen fighters, and mentioned crucifixions of federal soldiers performed by Chechen fighters.

The reports provoked a negative reaction from all sides. A representative of the Russian Defense Ministry said that Nevzorov in his program presented Russian soldiers as "savages and monsters."

The decision by the Judicial Chamber itself, however, does not carry any penalty other than a verbal rebuke. But all the documents connected to the case have been sent to the Prosecutor General's Office to determine whether there are grounds to start a criminal investigation against Nevzorov and ORT.

Both sides say they welcome the chance to establish the truth.

Alexander Tamirov, spokesman for the Chechen representative office in Moscow, was pleased with the outcome of the first stage of the battle. "Now," he said, "we will have to prove our case bit by bit, by presenting the evidence refuting the claims of Nevzorov's programs."

Nechepurenko, Nevzorov's lawyer, said that a proper investigation "will confirm that we are right."

But the investigation may run into difficulties. According to Nechepurenko, Nevzorov uses very high-ranking sources to obtain information for his programs, and could not compromise them. "One cannot put such people on the spot without at least asking for their permission," she said.