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Dorenko Program Has Plug Pulled

Published: September 12, 2000 (Issue # 602)


MOSCOW - ORT yanked Sergei Dorenko, its outspoken anchor and a close Boris Berezovsky ally, off the air over the weekend in a sign that the Kremlin was closing its grip over the channel.

Berezovsky had last week declared that he was handing over his 49-percent ORT stake in trust to a group of 14 journalists and intellectuals - Dorenko included - over what he claimed was a Kremlin threat to clamp down on press freedom.

The government owns the controlling 51-percent stake in the station.

ORT general director Konstantin Ernst told Dorenko, who is also deputy director of the station, just hours before broadcast Saturday that the analytical program was being pulled from the evening lineup.

Ernst said in a statement that Dorenko had refused to keep quiet about Berezovsky's decision to hand over his stake, and the "emotional tension surrounding the situation threatens ORT's normal work."

But Dorenko, who had just the weekend before fiercely lashed out at President Vladimir Putin over his handling of the Kursk submarine disaster, said Monday that it was Putin who had ordered Ernst to take his program off the air.

"If you know the logic of bureaucrats, they always wait until he [Putin] waves his hand," Dorenko said at a news conference.

Dorenko said he lost his show because he had steadfastly refused to ally himself with Putin, which would have meant the anchorman could no longer air criticisms of the president and his allies.

The journalist said he met with Putin at least four times since September 1999. At their most recent meeting on Aug. 29, Putin said he had broken all ties with Berezovsky and asked the ORT anchor for his support, Dorenko said.

Berezovsky is widely believed to have played a large role in plucking Putin from relative obscurity last year and propelling him to the Kremlin. Dorenko himself helped boost Putin's rising star last year by broadcasting a series of scathing reports about one-time presidential contenders such as former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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