Head of Russia's New 'Patriotic' Media Group Resigns After a Few Days

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Controversy around the creation of a "patriotic media group" in Russia continues as Russian Media Group's newly appointed general director resigned after just a few days in office and several leading artists threatened to pull their tracks from rotation on RMG's flagship Russkoye Radio.

Last month, producer Vladimir Kiselev announced that a media group focused on promoting Russian artists with a "patriotic" agenda will be created on the basis of RMG, which controls several FM stations and a TV channel, as the group will be acquired by the state-run concert promoter Goskontsert, headed by Kiselyov's long-time associate Sergei Bunin.

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Many Russkoye Radio artists and their producers spoke up against the idea, accusing Kiselyov of an attempt to take effective control of the group under the pretext of patriotism.

However, the government greenlighted the acquisition of RMG by Goskontsert, and RMG's general director and minority shareholder Sergei Kozhevnikov, who opposed the deal, was promptly replaced by Sergei Arkhipov.

However, Arkhipov lasted on the job only a few days. "I'm leaving RMG," he wrote on his Facebook account on Tuesday. "The reasons should be self-explanatory."

He later told the business daily RBK that his decision to step down was prompted by a phone call he received from Bunin, who suggested that tracks by certain artists should not be rotated on Russkoye Radio.

"I am used to dealing with structural and creative issues, not with feuds between artists," he was quoted as saying.

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Meanwhile, Russkoye Radio artists who criticized the "patriotic media group" deal, made their own move, threatening to pull their tracks and form a new station.

"We absolute refuse to have anything to do with Kiselyov," Iosif Prigozhin, producer of singer Valeriya, told on the air of the radio station Govorit Moskva. "This is a crazy person who needs to be taken to a mental institution."

He added that if Kiselyov becomes involved with RMG management, several leading Russkoye Radio artists, including Filipp Kirkorov, Alla Pugacheva and Kristina Orbakaite, will boycott RMG and form their own radio station.

The future of RMG's station Maximum and Monte Carlo, which focus on foreign artists, within the new media group remains unclear.