What have we come to! The US president’s spokesman subjected to criticism a decision of the Moscow Arbitration Tribunal. This happened today. Sean McCormack, White House spokesman, announced that closing the Russian TV-6 company was a step back, to the past, from today’s democratic society.
McCormack stated that while negotiating with Vladimir Putin, US President George Bush had noticed the exclusive role of the free press for developing democracy in Russia.
It looks like in a hurry, Mr McCormack has received false information. The liquidation of TV-6 company is being carried out according to Russian legislation. Therefore, it turns out that either the White House does not acknowledge Russian law, or it simply shares the same position of the collectives of Gusinski and Berezovski, and namely, the laws were written not for them. However, today’s position of the TV-6 collective (the ex-collective of NTV) becomes clear. To everybody’s delight, today’s director general of TV-6 Kiselev & K. did not boost the all-Russian scandal about the protection of freedom of speech after the arbitration tribunal took a decision about closing the TV company. No open letter was written, no public appeal was broadcast, and even no meetings were organized to support TV-6.
Therefore, they seem to have wait for the West’s reaction. And the reaction did not keep waiting. As a matter of fact, Kiselev’s team likes to turn its financial troubles from domestic problems into problems of foreign policy. Everybody heard about the NTV scandal. Earlier events should not be forgotten. Vladimir Gusinski’s arrest (NTV ex-owner) aroused an unusual wave of anti-Russian propaganda in the West. Top managers from NTV visited Western capitals declaring to journalists about Russia returning to Stalinist times, about the violation of freedom of speech, about the lack of civil freedoms, ect. These travels look all the more absurd, because the unbridled NTV workers were freely let out of the country, they easily came back, and departed to search for “the truth” again.
It would not have been difficult to close the border for them. All the more, abroad, they occupied themselves with the real anti-Russian propaganda. However, the borders were not closed, nobody was arrested, NTV still works, and people are not deprived of freedom of speech.
For all that, oligarch Gusinski’s arrest turned from a usual legal procedure settled according to the internal laws of Russia into a political action with some Western countries’ participation. Vladimir Gusinski’s contacts in Western (in particular, in Israeli and American) business and political circles are well known. It is not by chance that while visiting Russia, US President Bill Clinton went on the air on the Ekho Moskvy radio station controlled by Gusinski.
Now, TV-6 has many more opportunities to play with foreign policy than NTV had. The trump called Gusinski (the participant of a criminal case) joined with one more trump called Berezovski (also a criminal case’s participant). Together, they seem to have reached the White House. The economical case was passed into the field of foreign policy.
It is clear that Berezovski does not want to loose the channel that is practically his only mouthpiece in Russia. He is even ready to start a dispute between the US and Russia while their relations are so unusually warm.
So, what is the reason for the conflict around TV-6?
This September, a lawsuit against Moscow Independent Broadcast Corporation stock company (on whose channel TV-6 appears) was brought by astockholder LUKoil-Garant pension fund (possessing 15 percent of stocks). According to Russian Civil Code, the company could be liquidated if its yearly balance was negative for two years. TV-6 existed with negative balance for four years, which was confirmed during the trial while making a decision about the suit’s outcome. The TV-6 network appealed against the court ruling to the Moscow Arbitration Court. The latter, however, left the ruling in place. At present, TV-6 is appealing to a higher court, but the process is hard to stop.
In reality, nobody is planning to close TV-6 right away. The more so that the company itself is not endangered. The closure is only faced by the Moscow Independent Broadcasting Corporation, which owns the channel used by the TV-6. At that, TV-6 has a licence for using this channel, and nobody seems to be set to take it away from it before the licence expires. In the meantime, one can bring many law suits and keep on defending one’s stance.
The company’s collective body, following its favorite tradition, has decided to act differently. That is to say they are inclined to defend their cause not by conventional, legal means but rather by attracting the world community’s attention to their problems, presenting the court ruling of MIBC closure as infringement of freedom of speech and a threat to Russian democracy. Yet, one should not expect a high-profile row breaking out. The Russian law-enforcement bodies are scrupulously following the letter of the law. However, TV-6 officials seem determined to damage the country’s image on the international stage in their usual manner.
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/11/29/34348.html