MOSCOW, February 14 (Itar-Tass) — Editor-in-chief of the Echo Moscow radio station Alexei Venediktov assured that the company's policy would remain unchanged. "We assure the listeners that the editorial policy of Echo Moscow has been and will be based on the Russian Federation's laws in the interests of public good, which the radio company has using in its work," Echo of Moscow said in an official statement placed on its website on Tuesday, in connection with the demand by Gazprom-media for an early resignation of the incumbent board of directors.
At the same time, "we understand that Gazprom-media could not but react to the criticism of the top Russian officials, with respect to the radio station," the statement said.
At a meeting with editors-in-chief of the Russian mass media outlets in December, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he was not offended by criticism on the part of Echo of Moscow.
He asked the company's editor-in-chief for whom he would vote /at the March 4 presidential election - eds Itar-Tass/.
Venediktov explained that he had not voted since 1996, because as an editor-in-chief of the radio station, which is political, he did not like making listeners or his journalists vote for somebody.
After Echo of Moscow placed another letter of businessman Boris Berezovsky on its website, United Russia stated it would sue the company for placing extremist materials.
Head of the United Russia faction in parliament Andrei Vorobyov believes that the letter contains "an open call for violent overthrow of the Constitutional order, i.e. an obvious criminal offense."
On Tuesday, Alexei Venediktov said Gazprom-media demanded early resignation of the Board of directors, but that his own resignation was not on the agenda.
"The issue of editor-in-chief's stepping down was not raised," he stated, adding that "Gazprom-media did not demand my quitting the board. I quit the Board on my own."
Meanwhile, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said the initiative to replace the Board was "routine" and that there were no politics involved.
Yevgeny Yasin, scientific supervisor of the Higher School of Economics said he was hoping that the radio station "would preserve the status and position of an independent mass media outlet."
Yasin wrote so in his blog on the Echo of Moscow's website, expressing apprehension that the company might still come under control.
He said he was unaware of the reasons behind the demand for an early resignation of the incumbent Board.
"I don't know the motives behind this circumstance." But I believe the leadership might seek to establish control over independent media, he said.