Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NTV-Style Takeover Hits Lipetsk's TVK

An NTV-style takeover has occurred at TVK, the oldest privately owned television station in Lipetsk and a regular critic of the region's governor.

Security police on Wednesday locked out the 100 staff members and helped install a new general director, Dmitry Kolbasko.

"We always offered our audience a point of view different from that of our governor's office," ousted TVK news editor Ilya Sakharov said Thursday by telephone. "Thus local official agencies, like the tax police or firefighters, have been very persistent in their attempts to close us down in the past two years."

Lipetsk regional administration spokesman Alexander Sarik did not conceal his satisfaction. "The company now belongs to predictable people whom the governor's office has known for a long time," Sarik said.

Kolbasko appointed his brother, Alexei, as TVK editor, Kommersant reported.

Kolbasko, who once worked for TVK as a computer programmer, went on the air Wednesday and announced that he would not change the station's policy. But the station did not broadcast Thursday, and only one journalist and four technicians opted to stay with the new management, Sakharov said.

The dispute over TVK began in 1999 when Mikhail Trufanov, who founded the station in 1990 and owned 70 percent, sold a 51 percent stake to Moscow-based bank Zenit. The sale irritated the regional administration and it encouraged other shareholders to file suit, said ousted general director Alexander Lykov.

Sarik denied the administration was involved in the suit, but expressed his negative feelings toward Zenit bank. "We know that Zenit is closely affiliated with people who desperately strive for power in the region," he said. Zenit's major shareholders are the property committee of Tatarstan, with 31 percent, and Tatneft, with 25 percent.

The Kuntsevsky municipal court in Moscow ruled in December that TVK's deal with Zenit was legal, TVK lawyer Lyudmila Mironova said.

Nonetheless, she said, the administration-controlled joint-stock company Energia, which holds 30 percent of TVK, called a shareholders meeting for August to elect new management.

The Kuntsevsky court in Moscow and the Lipetsk district court ruled against the meeting.

But the meeting was held Tuesday and attended only by Energia lawyer Oleg Turin, who elected Kolbasko the new TVK head, Mironova said.

Neither Turin nor Kolbasko was available for comment Thursday. All eight telephone lines to TVK were dead.