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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lawmakers Condemn Head of Petersburg Television

St. Petersburg lawmakers launched a no-confidence motion against the chairman of the local television station for broadcasting a controversial report on the Right Cause political movement.

Members of the 50-member Legislative Assembly mustered 26 votes Wednesday to give preliminary approval to the measure aimed at Vice Governor Alexander Potekhin, chairman of the board of Petersburg Television.

Petersburg Television's "Politics St. Petersburg Style" show rebroadcast the report about Right Cause, even though the Press Ministry had warned that the report violated Russian mass media laws after it was shown on ORT. The Press Ministry took Petersburg Television off the air for two days.

"I believe that taking [Petersburg Television] off the air was a result of Potekhin's negligence," said lawmaker Andrei Korchagin, who initiated the no-confidence vote. Although non-binding, the no-confidence measure would give city Governor Vladimir Yakovlev legal grounds to fire Potekhin if it gains the support of at least 34 lawmakers. The next vote is scheduled for Sept. 22.

The lawmakers are unhappy over "Politics St. Petersburg Style," the brainchild of controversial journalist Alexander Nevzorov, media advisor to Yakovlev. Nevzorov's production company made the segment about Right Cause, which alleged without evidence that those at the rally were using drugs and showed young women baring their breasts.

Soon after the show first aired in January, 14 of St. Petersburg's leading luminaries, such as literary historian Dmitry Likhachyov and lawyer Yury Schmidt, protested to Yakovlev, saying that the show doesn't belong on a station managed by, and partly owned by, the city.

According to the authors of the letter, the show "constantly suggests to viewers that a 'serious' politician must have connections to crime and must be supported by bandits. Otherwise, it is claimed, he is a trivial figure unable to 'solve problems.'"

Yakovlev did not answer the letter.