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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Parfyonov Closes 'Namedni' Amid NTV Crisis

Leonid Parfyonov

The conflict surrounding the appointment of new management at NTV brought its first major loss for viewers Thursday evening, when one of the country's most celebrated journalists and the face of NTV, Leonid Parfyonov, closed his top-rated "Namedni" analytical show for at least three months. The last program is scheduled for Sunday.

"After a meeting with [Gazprom CEO] Alexei Miller, we [the 'Namedni' team] decided that 'Namedni' will not come out again," Parfyonov said in a televised statement, leaving it unclear whether the weekly program will be closed for good or just temporarily.

Parfyonov was one of 12 members of NTV's advisory board who protested the appointment of Nikolai Senkevich as the channel's acting general director to replace U.S. financier Boris Jordan, and Alexei Zemsky as his first deputy. Miller made clear in their meeting Tuesday that he was not going to reverse the appointment, Parfyonov said Thursday.

Miller met on the same day with chief of news Tatyana Mitkova, who also is considering going on vacation, sources in NTV said Thursday. Mitkova could not be reached.

"I was told that all the changes that happened and against which we spoke out will not be reversed," Parfyonov said. "It is impossible to work in such conditions."

Parfyonov said that during his 99-day vacation, he will complete the last part of his "Russian Empire" documentary series and supervise the new weekday evening news show "Strana i Mir," which he had helped start.

Against a buzz in media circles that he was considering an offer from Channel One, Parfyonov said last Friday, when he received the TEFI prize for best television program, that he was not quitting NTV over the crisis.

Miller was scheduled to return to Moscow on Friday. In a sign that his appointments at NTV have generated him enemies outside the channel too, government-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Thursday published an article strongly critical of Miller's personnel policy, while the Gazeta newspaper reported that Miller walked out of the latest Gazprom board meeting over a conflict with Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref.

It was not clear whether Parfyonov's decision was a gesture of despair or an attempt to gain leverage in the battle with Gazprom. It destroyed the hopes for a compromise, which appeared after Miller met with Parfyonov and Mitkova. Sources in Gazprom said earlier Thursday that they had named former NTV officials Vladimir Kulistikov, now with VGTRK, and Grigory Krichevsky of TVS as acceptable candidates for deputy director in charge of news.

"Of course, a person has the right to go on vacation, especially if he has not had any time off for a long time," said Anna Kachkayeva, media analyst with Radio Liberty. "But when in the zenith of its fame, mid-season, a program leaves prime time on Sunday, when advertising is most expensive, it can mean nothing other than a demarche expressing the authors' attitude to an unresolvable crisis or a strong method of pressuring the shareholders."