March 01, 2004

Putin Held Hostage

Victor Shenderovich, an award-winning writer, satirist, television and radio host and screenwriter, became famous in 1995 as a screenwriter for the NTV program Kukly (“Puppets”). The program was a satirical political comedy (using large puppets) which parodied Russian political life with plays based on well-known works of literature. In one of the two scripts which were censored by NTV, President Boris Yeltsin was to play the part of Winnie the Pooh, starting off the show with the song, “My head is stuffed with sawdust – but that’s not a big deal.” 

In 1997, Shenderovich became writer and host of Itovo (“In Toto”), also on NTV, a humorous and mordant analysis of the week’s events. 

When NTV, Russia’s pioneering independent television station (owned by exiled oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky), was taken over by the gas monopoly Gazprom, Shenderovich took Itovo to TV6, owned by another oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. After TV-6 was shuttered in 2002, the channel’s team created TVS, and Shenderovich launched a new satirical program, Besplatny syr (“Free Cheese”). 

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