NOVEMBER 29, 2005
Posted: December 1, 2005

Olga Romanova, Ren-TV

Romanova said at a press conference in Moscow that she was concerned for her safety and that of her two children. She said that she had been followed by a black Audi since filing a criminal complaint with the Khamovnicheskii inter-district prosecutor on November 28 against the three security guards who prevented her from entering the Ren-TV office on November 24. She filed the criminal complaint under Article 144 of the Criminal Code on obstructing labor activities. Romanova also said that she did not feel safe in Ren-TV premises because the same three security guards were following her around the office.

“I have all the reason to think that it is not safe for me to be in my own office – I’ll say it like this, I’ve been warned by some kind individuals,” Romanova said at the press conference. “Under no circumstances do I want to have the same fate as Paul Klebnikov.”

Romanova said three private security guards prevented her from entering the TV station on November 24 to host her evening news program “24.” She said the show was dropped shortly after she publicly criticized Ren-TV management for blocking reports that they believed might anger the Kremlin. One such story was the decision by authorities not to prosecute the son of Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov for killing an elderly pedestrian in a car accident in May, Romanova said.

Ren-TV director general Aleksandr Ordzhonikidze said in interviews that Romanova had been dropped not because of her news reporting but low ratings. Romanova said she did not believe authorities were responsible for her dismissal and that Ordzhonikidze was “simply doing the best he can to please the Kremlin,” The Moscow Times reported. Ordzhonikidze has taken Romanova off the air for three months and told her to develop a new program that would attract higher ratings.

The closure of “24” comes a little over a month after two companies close to the Kremlin took a significant stake in the station. Ordzhonikidze was appointed Ren-TV general director in early November, a month after oil company Surgutneftegaz and steelmaker Severstal completed their joint purchase of a 70 percent stake in the station. The German media company Bertelsmann owns the remaining 30 percent.