RUSSIA

The panellist who disappeared

The panellist was cut out but you can still see his legs. Last October a political analyst well known for his critical attitude towards the Kremlin took part in a pre-recorded debate on the Russian TV channel TV Centre. Were the authorities ready to get slated on telly? Apparently not. When the show was broadcast a few days later, the opponent magically disappeared from the set. Read more...

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Last October a political analyst well known for his critical attitude towards the Kremlin took part in a pre-recorded debate on the Russian TV channel TV Centre. Were the authorities ready to get slated on television? Apparently not. When the show was broadcast a few days later, the opponent magically disappeared from the set.

The producers of the show - incidentally called "The People Want to Know" - soon realised their mistake after filming and carefully edited out Mikhaïl Deliaguin's contributions from the recordings. The black sheep is an economist who has advised Boris Yeltsin and other various politicians who are today expelled from power. He regularly condemns Russia's power and electoral systems. Although he was removed from the show, you can't say he wasn't there at all - the ghost panellist can sometimes be seen in the background.

"The big media companies (...) have taken on censorship for themselves"

Vitaly Dymarskiy is an editorialist at the relatively independent Russian radio station Echos of Moscow.

In the run up to the legislative elections here there was a blacklist of speakers banned from talking to the media. It wasn't a formal register written up by censor organs; it was just known through word of mouth who you shouldn't speak to. Everybody branded as a critic of the authorities, the elections or Putin's party was on there. And of course all the members of the radical opposition like Kasparov, Kassianov, Rizkov and Limonov.

Mikhaïl Deliaguin was also on the list. Apparently the show's managers realised too late, only when the thing was being edited. But this happened a while ago - it's just resurfaced now in the US press because, in my opinion, the new president has brought around a feeling of change.

At the start of the noughties all the embarrassing journalists were ratted out [reference to the forced departures of reputed NTV journalists Kisselev and Parfenov]. Now, the big media companies, those that had an impact on the elections, have taken on censorship for themselves. All levels are "trained" in self-censorship, from the simple journalists through to the managing editors.

Screenshots from the show