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Three TV Rain employees to leave network over firing of host Alexey Korostelev
TV Rain hosts Margarita Lyutova (who also works as a special correspondent for Meduza) and Vladimir Romesky announced that they are leaving the network after their colleague, Alexey Korostelev, was fired over an on-air gaffe about the Russian army.
Lyutova announced that she would no longer broadcast her economics program, Dengi (Money), with TV Rain.
“Whatever the underlying considerations were, firing [Korostelev] seems to me like a big mistake. For me, TV Rain has always been about humanism, openness, and honesty. I think that, even if they were forced, the network’s public reaction contradicts all three of these straightforward principles,” the journalist said.
Romensky wrote that he was directly involved in the broadcast which led to Korostelev’s firing. “I was listening in as the head editor,” he explained. “Duty requires that I leave my badge and revolver on the table. That’s what I’m doing.”
He added that he considers firing Korostelev “a monstrous mistake.” “They threw one of their own under the bus. They sent a loved one to slaughter. I can’t do that, I’m gone,” he said.
Darina Lukutina, a TV Rain employee and Korostelev’s partner, also announced her departure from the network. “I don’t understand how you can sacrifice an employee to please the state, before the state even demands the sacrifice,” she wrote on Facebook. Officials in Latvia, where TV Rain is currently based, publicly criticized Korostelev’s remarks.
Follow Meduza in English on Twitter to stay up to date.
Alexey Korostelev was fired because, on air on December 1, while promoting the station’s hotline for information about Russian mobilization, he said: “Many of the stories sent to us or to the Telegram bot are now public. We hope that we can help many service members, for example, with equipment and basic amenities at the front.”
Ukrainian activists and bloggers condemned TV Rain. Latvia, where the station has a broadcast license and where its editorial offices are located, opened an investigation. The country’s defense minister, Artis Pabriks, said that TV Rain should go back to Russia, and that the process to annul its employees’ residence permits was already underway.
In the early hours of December 2, TV Rain’s editor-in-chief, Tikhon Dzyadko, apologized for Korostelev’s phrasing, and offered assurances that the network had never aided the Russian army. The network announced Korostelev’s dismissal on air that day. Dzyadko said Korostelev had a slip of the tongue, and that it happens to all hosts. “The difference here is that there’s a war, and the price of a blunder…is much, much higher,” he said, explaining the reasoning for firing Korostelev.
Korostelev reported that he agreed with the firing if it could help the network avoid being shut down. He also clarified what he meant: “Am I sorry for all those hungry mobilized men, abandoned by everyone (it was them I was talking about)? Yes. Is Putin a great guy? No. There’s a dividing line in there somewhere. Do I help the mobilized people I mentioned during the monologue? Only in that I talk about them.”
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