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NTV urges Russians to join protest

Ted Turner
Turner's team is in talks with Gazprom  

MOSCOW, Russia -- Journalists from Russia's embattled television network NTV are urging people to join a protest to support their fight against new owners.

The demonstration planned for Saturday will take place as CNN founder Ted Turner continues his efforts to buy into NTV.

The journalists, fighting against new owners from state-dominated Gazprom, who they accuse of being used by the Kremlin to take over the only independent national TV station, have called for people to gather near the Ostankino TV tower in the north of the city..

"NTV is your right to the truth. Come on Saturday," the station said in a broadcast appeal for people to turn out.

Turner is attempting to negotiate an agreement that would allow him to purchase a minority position in the company.

In a press release, Turner said on Friday, "It is my sincere hope that the journalists and employees of NTV, who comprise the true value of this company, remain patient and calm while we work to finalize a transaction that will ensure the long term independence of their network."

On Tuesday, Turner representatives reached agreement with NTV founder Vladimir Gusinsky to purchase his holdings in NTV and other media outlets.

Turner's team is currently in talks with NTV's other major shareholder, the partially-government-owned Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom.

In his statement, Turner said his goal is to "structure a transaction under which no one company will have majority control over NTV, and we are committed to including a number of European and Russian investors as shareholders."

The statement was released as a newly-formed "conciliatory commission" meeting in Moscow failed to resolve a stand-off over control of the network.

The current editorial leadership of NTV and its journalists have been involved in a protest movement since Tuesday, when an emergency NTV shareholder's meeting removed the old leadership and installed a new director, chairman of the board and editor in chief.

The NTV staff refuse to recognise the new team, claiming the shareholder meeting was illegal.

Also on Friday, NTV's current management announced it will appeal to President Vladimir Putin to suspend a court order that found the shareholder meeting was legal.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Both sides firm in NTV standoff
April 5, 2001
Anger at NTV showdown
April 5, 2001
Ted Turner signs NTV deal
April 4, 2001

RELATED SITES:
NTV-Internet
Russian Government
Moscow Times

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