Putin told former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that he would not interfere in the bitter feud between the shareholders but believed the matter should be resolved "through legal channels."
Putin's support for a legal settlement increases the likelihood that the matter will now be referred to the Supreme Court, a move the staff of NTV had called for.
Gorbachev, who has defended the NTV team's side against that of the managers of state-controlled natural gas monopoly Gazprom, said Putin agreed that "the network and the team of professional journalists should not be lost."
CNN founder Ted Turner is busy negotiating the purchase of a stake in NTV in a bid to guarantee the network's continued independence, but his efforts may be hampered as more NTV staff give up the fight and abandon what they believe is a sinking ship.
Already, two of the network's stars have fled, and Monday they were followed by the departure of 20 other journalists. More than 300 reporters, editors and technicians maintain their support for top anchorman and NTVs director, Yevgeny Kiselyov, who was fired by Gazprom during an emergency shareholders meeting last week.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, visiting Putin's home town of St. Petersburg Monday for talks with the Russian leader, told Putin in no uncertain terms of his concern over media freedom in Russia, which he called vital for the building of a "civil society."
"Russia is in need of a media that informs the people and keeps power in check," Schroeder said before the talks.
Russia's two other national television networks, ORT and RTR, are already under the Kremlin's control.
In a gesture of support to the independent media group that include a newspaper, magazines and a radio station, as well as NTV, Schroeder is scheduled to speak on Radio Echo Moskvy, the group's radio outlet.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.