Radio station that dared to anger Putin faces the music



One of Russia's most respected media outlets cried foul yesterday as its owners, the energy giant Gazprom, insisted on a boardroom reshuffle.

The move was widely seen as politically motivated, coming a fortnight before presidential elections in which Vladimir Putin is set to win a return to the Kremlin, and a month after the Prime Minister accused the radio station of constantly "pouring diarrhoea" over him.

Although controlled by the media arm of Gazprom, Ekho Moskvy is well known for its courageous journalists, lively talk shows, and uncensored news bulletins. Alexei Venediktov, the station's editor-in-chief, said yesterday that he suspected the move by Gazprom Media to reshuffle the station's board of directors was an attempt to "take control" of coverage of the election.

Even though Mr Putin is expected to win the 4 March vote, street protests that have erupted over the past two months have changed the political context in the country.

Mr Putin attacked Ekho Moskvy during a meeting with Russian media chiefs last month. He told Mr Venediktov that he had chanced upon the radio station one evening before going to bed and had been shocked by what he had heard.

"I have never heard such ravings," he said. "This isn't news, this is serving the foreign policy interests of one state with regard to another, with regard to Russia."

After the conversation, Mr Venediktov said he did not mind being criticised by Mr Putin. But it now appears the politician's words could spell trouble for the radio station.

Mr Venediktov and other top editors have vowed that the editorial line of the radio station will not change, but it is clear the move is meant as a shot across the bows of the station in the run-up to the election.

A spokesman for Mr Putin denied that the prime minister had anything to do with the decision, and Mr Venediktov himself suggested the decision could have been taken by over-eager officials who took Mr Putin's words as a signal.

"This is an example of how the state puts pressure on the media, it's an example of direct pressure," said the liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky yesterday. "It's a warning act from which we can judge what will come after the elections."

In recent weeks, there has been talk of a more liberal media policy in Russia. But in another sign that a fresh crackdown is under way ahead of the elections, the socialite Ksenia Sobchak said yesterday that her new talk show, which premiered on Russian MTV last week, had been cancelled by the channel after the first episode had featured genuine debate of the like that has not been seen on Russian television for years.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments