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.Pages:  [2 ]