Russian Journalist Slain
Listyev Opposed Television Advertising
Moscow, March 1, 1995 -- by Steven Erlanger, special to the New
Once of Russia's best-known television journalists, Vladislav
Listyev, was killed tonight in a gangland-style murder in the
entryway of his Moscow apartment building, the police said.
Mr. Listyev, 38, made his reputation in the glasnost period when
he often sparred on the air with Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet
President, who was striving to remove the stifling cloak of
official lies that surrounded everything here.
Mr. Listyev had recently been named executive director of the
reorganized Ostankino television network, a job with major
finacncial responsibilities. He supported a ban on advertising on
the channel that was announced on February 20 and due to begin
April 1. There was immediate speculation tonight that Mr. Listyev,
who was shot in the heart and died instantly, was killed over
profits, not journalism.
Aleksandr Yakovlev, a former Politburo member under Mr. Gorbachev
and chairman of the board of the channel, told the Itar-Tass news
agency tonight that he himself had begun recieving telephone
threats after the decision to stop showing advertisements. "We must
have got in someone's way," Mr. Yakovlev said, expressing shock at
Mr. Listyev's killing.
Mr. Yakovlev said that Russian public
television recently changed its methods of selling
advertisements, creating an in-house agency that multiplied the
company's advertising revenues seven times, from $1.1 million a
month to $7.8 million.
"The difference must have ended up in the pockets of some
moguls," Mr. Yakovlev said.
But then the company decided to suspend showing advertising
Mr. Listyev was one of three people behind the hard-hitting news
program, Vzglyad, or Viewpoint. More recently, he was the host of
Chas Pik, or Rush Hour, an interview show modeled on CNN's Larry
The last several months brought many changes to Ostankin, the
biggest state television channel that reaches across the entire
former Soviet Union. Last November, President Boris N. Yeltsin made
Ostankino Channel One into Russian public television, but the state
kept a controlling 51 percent share.
The remaining shares were offered to a select group of companies
including Itar-Tass, Aeroflot International Airlines and commercial
banks including Menatep, Stolichny, Inkombmak and Roscredit.
Because of its widespread influence, who controls Russian public
television is considered crucial to winning the parliamentary
elections scheduled for December and the presidential vote
scheduled for June 1996. Mr. Yakovlev has spoken in the past of
intense political pressure, saying : "Unfortunately, people think
that to take the Kremlin, they must first take Ostankino."
Igor Shabdrasulov, a Government representative on the board,
said the ban on advertising was intended "to determine the proper
correlation between advertising on the one hand and the interests
of economic development and moral criteria on the other." He said
that during the ban, losses would be offset by private
The day after the ban was announced, Mr. Yeltsin announced a
nationwide ban on advertisng tobacco and alcohol products and ads
for popular faith healers. But enforecement is likely to be
Anatoly Lysenko, director-general of the state-owned Russan
Radio and Television Company, or Channel 2, warned against the ban,
saying that advertising accounts for a third of revenues, and
companies like Ostankino would be hard-pressed to come up with the
Tonight, Channel 2 began its newscast with a moment of silence
for Mr. Listyev, with the anchor breaking the silence to ask: "Who
will be next?"