The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 28, 2002 - 5A
Russian journal and oficials given media grant
MOSCOW - In what is widely seen as a
Kremlin-orchestrated effort to end Russia's
unseemly media wars, the country's Press Min-
istry granted a broadcast license yesterday to a
mix-and-match consortium of Kremlin critics
The resolution - if it is one - appears
inspired less by King Solomon than Dr.
Frankenstein: It splices together an award-win-
ning journalist, a former Soviet spymaster and
a motley crew of oligarchs with little in com-
mon except an apparent desire to quell criti-
cism that the Kremlin is stifling independent
"I think the competition was honest," said
former prime minister and Soviet foreign intel-
ligence chief Yevgeny Primakov, who helped
cobble together the winning tender. "What we
need to do now is to put together a team that
will be public and global in the full sense of the
word - without pressure from the government,
without pressure from the oligarchs, without
any pressure at all."
The winners are fronted by controversial TV
anchorman Yevgeny Kiselyov, once the Krem-
lin's harshest critic, who in recent weeks and
days has seemed uncharacteristically compli-
Once Russia's leading journalist, Kiselyov
has been dethroned twice in the past year -
once from the country's leading independent
network NTV and a second time from a smaller
station, TV-6, where he had taken shelter with
many of his former colleagues.
"On the outside, the situation looks rather
funny," said Pavel Voshchanov, a former presi-
dential spokesman and political analyst. "The
authorities ended up with something they had
been trying very hard to get rid of-- the Kise-
lyov team is back on the air. But this is only a
superficial impression. Although everything
looks the same on the outside, on the inside
everything has changed."
Kremlin officials including President
Vladimir Putin have insisted in public that they
had nothing to do with the financial and legal
maneuverings that led to the downfall of NTV
last year and of TV-6 in January.
But few in Russia doubt that the government
entities that led the campaigns - the gas
monopoly Gazprom in the case of NTV and the
Press Ministry in the case of TV-6 - were
operating at the Kremlin's behest. The thing
both TV companies had in common is that they
were owned by the two oligarchs who have
been not-so-subtly denounced by Putin as
exerting unwelcome influence over their media
holdings: Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Bere-
Observers noted that since Gusinsky and
Berezovsky owned most of the influential
non-state media, any attack on their hold-
ings was also an attack on independent jour-
The idea behind "Media-Sotsium," as the
new consortium is called, is apparently
designed to demonstrate that the target was not
Kiselyov by finding a way to put him back on
the air without the financial backing of Gusin-
sky and Berezovsky. The consortium members
are supposed to represent diverse views and
financial interests, part of an effort to keep
Kiselyov and his team from being beholden to
any of them.
The consortium's senior figure is Primakov.
In 1999, when the leadership of the Kremlin
was in contention, Primakov was seen as
Putin's toughest challenger - until his chances
were destroyed by a smear campaign on the
Kremlin-backed ORT network.
Since then, however, Primakov's political
movement has mellowed into a soft, pro-Kremlin
centrism. Primakov was apparently seen as an
adequately neutral public figure to lead the non-
I think the competition was honest. What we
need to do now is to put together a team that
will be public and global in the full sense of the
word - without pressure from the government."
- Yevgeny Primakov
Former Russian prime minister
profit consortium, despite his frequent diatribes
at reporters he considers disloyal or unseemly.
"It's widely known how (Primakov) feels
about journalists," said Andrei Norkin, a for-
mer NTV anchorman who put in one of the 14
other bids that lost to Media-Sotsium.
The business side of the winning consortium
is headed by Arkady Volsky, chairman of the
Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepre-
neurs, a Kremlin-endorsed group of business
Since Putin has been in office, the union has
been seen as a Kremlin vehicle to dilute and
restrain the power of the oligarchs.
Media-Sotsium won the tender by a unani-
mous vote by a panel appointed by the Press
Ministry. Panel member Manana Aslamazyan,
director of Internews, a nongovernmental organi-
zation that supports independent mass media,
said despite the apparent consensus, members
debated long and hard before voting because they
felt indirectly manipulated by the Kremlin.
"What triggered the doubts in our heads
was how the merger of a group of journalists
and a group of oligarchs under the supervision
of pro-government people very loyal to the
authorities could work," Aslamazyan said
"Isn't there a great threat to the independ-
ence of journalists? Will they not be made to
do something that would go counter to their
convictions and their beliefs?"
Bush raises funds
ATLANTA (AP) - President Bush collected $2.6 million for Republi-
can Senate candidates in two states yesterday, hours after signing a cam-
paign finance bill that will restrict political fund raising. "I'm not going to
lay down my arms," Bush said.
The ink on Bush's signature was barely dry when he flew to South Car-
olina to raise $1.1 million for Rep. Lindsey Graham, who is seeking the
seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Strom Thurmond.
"The Senate races are very important for me, I want Republicans to take
control of the Senate, I want (Republican Rep.) Denny Hastert to be speak-
er of the House," Bush said. "These are the rules, that's why I'm going to
campaign for like-minded people."
The bill will "make American politics more palatable," said Graham,
who voted in favor of the legislation and was a vocal supporter of Bush's
2000 GOP rival, Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.) - the most visible sponsor
of campaign-finance legislation. "A lot of people feel that. money corrupts
the system," Graham said. "People feel like they'll have a better voice."
The president then flew to Atlanta to raise an additional $1.5 million for
Rep. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who is trying to oust Democratic Sen.
Max Cleland. It was the 13th fund-raiser of the year for Bush.
"Saxby Chambliss needs to be in the United States Senate," Bush said.
"He loves his family, he loves his country, he's a man of enormous experi-
In his two speeches to donors, Bush did not mention the new campaign
Democrats are aggressively raising money, too, and Bush has said he
would not stop "unilaterally." Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) was in
South Carolina on Monday for a breakfast fund-raiser benefiting Alex
Sanders, the Democrat facing Graham.
Today, Bush is heading to Texas to raise at least $1.2 million for Texas
Attorney General John Cornyn's bid for Senate, bringing his two-day total
to a minimum of $3.8 million. The president was spending a long Easter
weekend on his Texas ranch.
Yesterday's events raised $250,000 for. South Carolina Republicans and
$250,000 for Georgia Republicans.
Under new law, some of that "party money" probably will be prohibited.
At the same time, he will be permitted to raise twice as much in "hard
money" - donations by individuals for candidates themselves - because
the legislation raises limits from $1,000 to $2,000.
Bush was never an enthusiastic supporter of the legislation known as
McCain-Feingold, and renewed his reservations yesterday.
He said he was concerned about whether the law will violate the Consti-
tution's free speech protections. The White House was noncommittal about
whether it will have a role in lawsuits that opponents immediately filed.
Bush said he wanted a bill that would have shielded union members and
corporate shareholders from seeing their dues or profits channeled to polit-
ROME (AP) - American citizens
could be targeted by extremist groups
in four Italian cities on Easter Sun-
day, the U.S. government warned yes-
The State Department said a "possi-
ble threat exists to U.S. citizens in the
cities of Venice, Florence, Milan and
Verona on Easter Sunday from extrem-
The announcement did not identify
the groups or elaborate on the nature of
the threats, but it warned that "these
groups do not distinguish between offi-
cial and civilian targets."
It said Americans should "increase
their security awareness and avoid large
A U.S. official said the warning was
based on information developed in
cooperation with Italian authorities.
In Washington, Secretary of State
Colin Powell said, "For those who are
traveling in Italy - in specific places
in search for lost
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -
School district officials said yesterday
an investigation has confirmed that a
group of third-grade students were
improperly strip-searched for missing
According to parents, at least two
teachers at Pitcher Elementary
searched 23 students for $5 in missing
lunch money on March 18. The money
was eventually found, though not
through the searches.
District officials said in a written
statement yesterday and in a letter to
parents that the searches were "an
egregious violation" of school poli-
"The District finds the conduct of
the adults directly involved in this inci-
dent to be abhorrent," district officials
said in the statement.
The school's principal and two teach-
ers were suspended last week pending a
school district investigation.
School district spokesman Edwin
Birch said they remained suspended,
but said state law prohibited him from
talking about any other disciplinary
action they face.
Parents have said a female third-
grade teacher started the search after
other efforts to find the money failed.
She reportedly took the girls to a rest-
room, then had them pair up in stalls,
where they were told to check each
The boys went to the gymnasium
with a male physical education teacher,
who took them one at a time into a
locker room where each was told to
strip down and shake his underwear,
President Bush appears in Atlanta, Ga., helping to raise $1.5 million for Rep. Saxby
Chambliss (R-Ga.) who Is trying to oust Democratic Sen. Max Cleland.
ical causes involuntarily.
But, he said, on balance the law will improve the campaign finance sys-
"I wouldn't have signed it if I was really unhappy with it," Bush told
reporters as he met with emergency and rescue workers at a Greenville,
S.C., fire station.
Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice
and some staff members were in the Oval Office when Bush signed the
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer explained the low-key sign-
ing: "To hold a giant South Lawn ceremony would not have the air of con-
sistency, so the president conducted the signing in a ceremony that was
befitting for his beliefs on the bill in its totality," he said.
Ranit Schmelzer, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-
S.D.) said it was a "stealth signing."
In both South Carolina and Georgia, Bush promoted his budget proposal
to spend $140 million next year to help small communities coordinate in
responding to domestic terrorism.
"We understand we've got to have a strategy for rural South Carolina
and rural America as well," Bush told the rescue workers.
In Atlanta, Bush watched as workers in hazardous-materials suits
responded to a mock chlorine gas attack.
The rescuers stripped one man of most of his clothes and slid him
through a decontamination shower as he lay in a stretcher.
"That goes beyond the call of duty to impress the president," Bush
quipped. "Better you than me."
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