6 December 2006
This briefing paper is available on the Internet at: The opinions expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. [...] At the time, the general feeling was that this threat was very real, and I had good reason to believe that in the light of that conversation, but the politician also conceded that although Chechnya indeed did pose a threat, it was not the greatest threat. [...] All components of the Government, whether members of the President’s administration, the tax police, the FSB (successor to the KGB), or Gazprom — which held shares in the television channel — were called upon to join forces against NTV and its journalists. [...] Today, the number of viewers of Channel One (heir to Gosteleradio, a relic from the Soviet era) has reached around the hundred million mark, and the station’s broadcasting range covers the whole expanse of the Russian Federation, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. [...] Our country’s downward slide and its low ranking, generally, in the index are down to the State’s increasing stranglehold on television, the stepping-up of censorship on the State-run channels, the stifling — followed by an almost complete wipe-out — of opposition in the programmes broadcast, and the transfer of the newspapers Izvestiya and, to some degree, Kommersant into Gazprom control.