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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mourning The Loss Of a 2nd Channel

Politicians from across the political spectrum lashed out Tuesday at the shutdown of Boris Berezovsky's TV6, while ordinary Russians expressed frustration and confusion.

"President [Vladimir] Putin was fighting against Berezovsky, but the victims of the fight are viewers and journalists," said Boris Nemtsov, the leader of the Union of Right Forces party.

The decision to shut down TV6 "was a stupid move and a grand-scale mistake," Nemtsov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov told a news conference in Strasbourg, France, that although he does not share TV6's views, there was no need to "tune all mass media into one tone" and, thus, repeat the mistakes of the past, according to Interfax.

Human rights activists chimed in.

"I think this is loathsome. It is an insult to people and common sense, and I cannot find any other name for it," activist Alexei Simonov said on the Ekho Moskvy radio station. "All these attempts to reach a legal solution are complete nonsense."

Nemtsov, who has called the TV6 dispute politically motivated, said it would be pointless to bring the matter up with Putin.

"I know in advance what he would say -- that he is all for free speech and that he supports journalists," he said.

A snap survey Tuesday found that just over one-quarter of Muscovites believe the TV6 shutdown was hinged to a business dispute -- the same reasoning TV6 minority shareholder LUKoil-Garant voiced when it started liquidation hearings against the unprofitable station.

About 20 percent of the 500 people polled by the ROMIR polling agency thought the closure was due to a struggle between the government and the oligarchs -- namely Berezovsky -- while 15.6 percent said it was linked to a feud between the government and TV6 journalists, particularly TV6 general director Yevgeny Kiselyov, Interfax reported.

People on the street offered a more complex view.

"It is an internal struggle within the television world. There is also a conflict with the country's leadership. And Kiselyov has long been a thorn in everybody's side," said Vasily Dudaryov, 52, a contract worker. "So an opportunity was seized, and the channel was closed.

"All this is disgusting," he added.

However, large protests appeared unlikely to take place in Moscow, in contrast to the takeover of NTV television by Gazprom-Media in April. Small protests were held in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.

"This is a mess," said Andrei Ivanov, a 39-year-old army officer. "It's like having your bag ripped off your shoulder. What are you going to do? Scream 'Help me, help me'? That would be pointless because nobody would help. It is exactly the same with TV6."

"I don't have time to go protest, and I don't believe that it would help anyway," Dudaryov said.

Other Muscovites said they could not understand what the dispute was all about.

"If they say we have freedom of speech, why do they want to close the channel?" said Tatyana Baulina, 87, a retired economist. "I wish it still worked. What's so wrong with having a private channel?"

In St. Petersburg, about 30 people gathered at the local Federal Security Services' offices, waving posters that asked "Is Truth a State Secret?"

A larger protest was held in Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains, Interfax reported. About 60 people took to the streets demanding the resignation of Press Minister Mikhail Lesin.

Some Yekaterinburg protesters appealed to the heavens for TV6's return. "God, Give Us Back TV6," one poster read.

In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer expressed concern about the TV6 shutdown, Reuters reported.

"It would be a considerable setback for the diversity of opinion and diversity of media in Russia if this development led to the breakup of the network without a substitute," he said.