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Moscow Diary: The Ideological Struggle

By Mike Davidow, People's Weekly World, 17 June 1995

One would search in vain in all of history for an example to equal the abject surrender of all attributes of political power by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) led by Mikhail Gorbachev. Perhaps the key capitulation was the turning over of the ideological instruments - the mass media and particularly the state TV - to the pro-capitalist forces parading as "democrats."

Alexander N. Yakovlev, presently chair of the privatized major TV station, as head of the Party's ideological work directed an operation that the CIA could never in its wildest dreams imagine. Newspapers like Izvestia, Moscow News, Arguments and Facts, and countless periodicals were seized by their "democrat" editors. It would be as if the New York Times with its vast property and a host of other big business newspapers were appropriated by self-appointed owners. Only one so cowardly as well as treacherous as Gorbachev could have so spinelessly acceded to this greatest steal in history.

Boris Yeltsin moved rapidly to complete control of the mass media: Russia was deluged with anti-Soviet and anti-Communist propaganda. A day spent at the TV today is like being drugged by the narcotic of sex and violence of mostly western U.S. imports. Rarely are Soviet films shown and the "new Russian" films are only vulgar imitations of the U.S.'s products.

Russian artists are today largely unemployed (with the exception of Yeltsin's "Court Intelligentsia") or are engaged in the making of garish commercials.

With the prospect of threatening elections, the Yeltsin-Chernomyrdin regime is tightening its hold on the mass media. Renegade Yakovlev masterminded the privatization of the all-Union Ostankino TV "in time for coming elections."

So raw was the takeover that the collective of Ostankino addressed an open letter to the President, government, Duma and Federal Council and the public: It stated that "a behind the scenes conspiracy of bureaucrats and capital had staged the takeover making private property of public property." It charged that the decree of the President Nov. 29, 1994 establishing public Russian television actually destroys a unique multinational TV which, in the course of tens of years, created a priceless intellectual fund of Russian culture. This is regarded by the collective as a "political crime."

The statement exposed the fraud of calling this "public" TV, noting that "it is a shareholders' firm of a closed type expressing the interests only of the firm." It revealed that the Ostankino collective had never been consulted in making this decision and that Yakovlev as chair of Ostankino never had a single meeting with the collective. However, it was really he who in the name of the collective decided the fate of the TV station.

At a general meeting March 16 a "vote of no confidence in him" was adopted. It pointed out that "the air was turned over to commercial interests and most of the staff shoved aside." The vote of no confidence compelled Yakovlev to resign but he was immediately appointed head of the privatized station by Yeltsin. Yakovlev is also the founder of the Russian Party of Social Democracy.

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