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writing for godot

Who Has Shot Russia's Top Media Boss and Why?

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Written by ChilliPepper   
Thursday, 08 May 2014 05:13
Konstantin Ernst, an Executive Director of the Russia’s First Channel tried to commit suicide, the anonymous source in the leadership of the company have said. In the evening of April 30th, Ernst had a prolonged telephone conversation with Alexei Miller(Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chairman of Russian energy giant Gazprom) and Vladimir Putin, after which Ernst arrived at his home in the depressed mood and locked himself in the office.

Soon after that, Ernst girlfriend Larisa Sidelschikova heard a pistol shot. Unconscious Director Ernst was rushed to the hospital with the wounds to his cheekbone and tongue. Press secretary of the First Channel and doctors in the hospital refused to comment on the situation.

Although, the nature of the phone conversation is unknown, the rumors of Putin’s displeasure towards Director Ernst were swirling for months. The successful Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games just prolonged the inevitable; after all, Ernst is an outsider in the circle of cronies that surrounds Russian President.

Putin’s inner-cycle is the cabal of old St-Petersburg friends many of whom have known Putin for some time. As John Kampfner of Telegraph puts it: “In 1996, a group of business, political and security acquaintances from St Petersburg clubbed together to found a dacha condominium outside the city. It was called Ozero, or “lake”. When Putin came to power a few years later, they were given top posts in the government and/or in major corporations”. Konstantin Ernst, a native of Moscow was not a member of this clique and thus was never fully trusted. Additionally, Putin’s background in Soviet security services apparatus is in vast contrast to Ernst’s liberal intelligentsia upbringing and fueled even more mistrust.

Government controlled First Channel was rarely critical of Putin’s regime and the opposition leaders did not appear on its airways. Occasional criticism of Russian Duma however, most notably in Vladimir Pozner’s weekly show angered Kremlin’s leadership and considered Ernst to be ultimately responsible. Russia has a prolonged history of dealings with Putin’s critics: from journalist Anna Politkovskaya, former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Litvinenko to most recent mysterious death of oligarch Boris Berezovsky in London. In light of the current crisis in Ukraine, Kremlin needs to ensure of the most loyal and fully trusted source to be at the helm of the Russia’s main informational resource and Konstantin Ernst may not fit the bill.
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