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Russia's Proposed 'Patriotic' Media Group Met With Sharp Dissent From Current Employees

Employees of Russian Media Group (RMG) are protesting a takeover by Goskontsert, a deal that would lead to the creation of a "patriotic media group."

As the deal is approved by the government but not yet finalized, several dozen employees of RMG, which runs five FM radio stations and a TV station, sent a letter to the group's majority shareholder Leonid Fedun, calling on him not to sell his stake to Goskontsert.

"If the slightest possibility still exists that RMG could stay under control of [Fedun's] IFD-Kapital, we are calling on you not to abandon us and to continue work for your own good and for RMG's good," reads the letter, quoted by the Russian business daily Kommersant.

The controversy around RMG stirred last month when Vladimir Kiselyov, a producer and Kremlin loyalist, came up with an idea for a "patriotic media group," which would promote Russian artists whose material contains patriotic messages.

For that purpose, RMG would be sold to Goskontsert, a state-run company to which Kiselyov has close ties, and Kiselyov would become the new group's general producer.

The announcement enraged many artists of RMG's flagship Russkoye Radio, who threatened to boycott the station if the deal goes ahead.

In a separate move, RMG's Maximum FM station recently published a statement on its web site, condemning the "patriotic media group" idea, which was later removed.

"[The creation of the patriotic media group] means that the number of Western artists on [RMG's] stations will be minimized and we won't be able to introduce you to international musical achievements and play your favorite bands' tracks," read the statement. "This will actually mean death of a station with a 24-year history, as under these conditions it existence won't make any sense."

Kiselyov has recently criticized Maximum and RMG's other station focused on Western artists, Monte Carlo, saying the new media group should rotate only local artists.

Meanwhile, Alla Dovlatova, RMG's former DJ, added to the controversy around the group by making allegations about bribes demanded by Russkoye Radio station’s management for rotating certain artists’ tracks in the past.

"Some artists told me that [Russkoye Radio's programming director] solicited bribes from them for rotating their tracks," Dovlatova, who worked at Russkoye Radio from 2002 to 2008, told on the air of the radio station Govorit Moskva.