Matviyenko Critic Says He Has Been Blacklisted
Published: September 14, 2011 (Issue # 1674)
Television presenter and journalist Dmitry Gubin, once the editor of the local English-Russian-language publication Pulse St. Petersburg, says he has been blacklisted by Russia’s state-controlled national television at the demand of former St. Petersburg governor Valentina Matviyenko.
Last week, Gubin wrote in his blog on Livejournal.com that he found out “by pure chance” that he had been fired and replaced as the co-host of the program “Vremenno Dostupen” (Temporarily Available) on the Tsentr Television channel (TVTs), which he presented alongside Dmitry Dibrov.
He said that no one from the channel’s management has called him to tell him the news.
Gubin wrote that he learned that he had been put on a blacklist when he tried to find out via an unnamed influential source why he had been fired.
“Don’t even go near the federal television channels,” Gubin quoted his source as saying.
“There’s a total ban on you; Auntie Valya (one of Matviyenko’s nicknames) did her best. And everybody on television knows this.”
Gubin revealed that earlier this year, he was booted off another show he used to host, and edited out of three already completed shows on RTR Television channel.
Alongside actor Dmitry Kharatyan, Gubin was a co-host of RTR’s 90-minute talk show “Bolshaya Semya” (Large Family).
Ekho Moskvy journalist Ksenia Larina wrote about Gubin being edited out of the show in her blog on the station’s web site back in June, after the program editor wrote to her that the “Bolshaya Semya” program featuring her had still not been aired after several months because the channel was “busy editing out the presenter.”
When Larina asked why, the reply she received was: “Surely you understand.” On her blog, Larina described the situation as “crude, outrageous savagery.”
Gubin claims that he was told unofficially that he was edited out on the orders of “the state’s second person.” Speaking on Tuesday, he said he had no idea whether Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev was meant, but that he was sure that he came under fire because of his criticism of Matviyenko.
Matviyenko reportedly had the support of Putin, who endorsed her for the post of St. Petersburg governor in 2003 and reappointed her to the job in 2006 after scrapping gubernatorial elections.
According to Gubin, his current problems with television began after one of his programs on Vesti FM radio station in February, in which he criticized Matviyenko’s failure to manage the city during the winter, comparing the situation to the Siege of Leningrad during World War II and likening Matviyenko to Hitler.
In the program, he said that Matviyenko had in no time at all turned St. Petersburg, “one of Europe’s most magnificent cities,” into “the hole of a village outhouse” and then addressed her directly with the words, “Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko! You’ve turned the city into a stinking rotten garbage heap.”
Gubin wrote that he had been fired two hours after the program aired for an alleged “breach of contract,” but that he assumed it had been done on the orders of the authorities.
The lengthy process of editing him out of RTR’s recorded “Bolshaya Semya” shows apparently began soon after, as both Vesti FM and RTR Television belong to the same holding.
Matviyenko vacated the seat of governor last month after being offered the position of Speaker of the Federation Council in Moscow by Medvedev. Analysts say the move was a result of her unpopularity with St. Petersburg residents caused by failures to clear the roads of snow and ice during the past two winters, among other reasons.
The authorities and television managers officially deny that blacklists exist. Unofficially, however, their existence has been confirmed by television journalists and opposition figures such as Garry Kasparov and Eduard Limonov, who say they are barred from taking part in television programs.
RTR, TV Tsentr and ATV Company that produces “Vremenno Dostupen” did not reply to questions when contacted by The St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday.