BOB GARFIELD: From WNYC in New York, this is On the Media. I'm Bob Garfield. BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I'm Brooke Gladstone. This week in Russia a group of journalists took control of a TV station -- but not by force. The owner, an exiled businessman, happily handed over the reins of TV6 to Vladimir Kiselyov, a star news anchor who had just quit his post at the country's most prominent network, NTV. Now NTV was once hailed as Russia's most independent station...alternately easy and tough on President Boris Yeltsin. Then Alexander Putin replaced Yeltsin, and NTV was taken over by the state-controlled gas company, Gazprom. That's why the journalists, led by Kiselyov, fled NTV and took up residence at TV6. BOB GARFIELD:But what of NTV? Its former owner, Boris Gusinsky, has been drummed out of Russia. Its new boss is an American businessman, Boris Jordan. Jordan vowed to keep the station independent, and he's had roughly four months to prove it. Matthew Brzezinski, long-time observer of Russia and author of the book Casino Moscow joins us now. Matthew welcome to OTM. MATTHEW BRZEZINSKI: [...?...]. [MISSING SOUND HERE] BOB GARFIELD: ...in the pocket of Vladimir Putin. [sic] MATTHEW BRZEZINSKI: I wouldn't go that far. I think Boris Jordan has always played for Boris Jordan and for Boris Jordan only. I think he's very smart, and he realizes that if he's discredited with Western investors then his future lies in Russia, and of course the one asset that Russia really has is natural resources, and the best way to get to Russia's natural resources is to do favors for the government, which is then in a position to do favors for him. BOB GARFIELD:He protests the way he's operating NTV is a reflection only of his desire to be a manager. From a distance how does it look? Is NTV being used as a tool of Putin propaganda or, or are they playing it pretty straight? MATTHEW BRZEZINSKI: They're doing it subtly. You're seeing progressively greater and greater changes in the sort of coverage. There's far, far less criticism of the Kremlin. Stories which before might have been leading off the broadcasts and t--which maybe 5 minutes would have been devoted to are now buried at the bottom. You're seeing very sort of strange Soviet style occurrences and segments. For instance, during the recent May 9th Victory Day celebrations, this is a great holiday for the Russians; this is their victory over Fascist Germany in World War II, and you had footage out of Grozny of Chechnya, of Chechen children dancing around monuments to Russian soldiers. This is the very same Chechen children who thousands have been orphaned by the Russian Army -- laying flowers and wreaths at the foot of these monuments to Russian soldiers. And you know this is the sort of thing that you would have never, ever seen on NTV before and now you do. The sort of thing you would have seen on state television but NTV wouldn't have touched with a 10 foot pole. Yevgeny Kiselyov who's sort of a Dan Rather of Russia, he was the former anchor at NTV and he quit the day that Jordan took over, you know, what he told me was look, this sends a message to every single editor, newspaper owner or television or radio station manager across the country that -- don't cross the party line because we will put you out of business. BOB GARFIELD: So in the end will Boris Jordan, will he be regarded as some sort of Tokyo Rose with an oil company? MATTHEW BRZEZINSKI:[LAUGHS] I, I don't think that, that history will treat someone like Boris very well. It's clear that, just as Russians are being asked to sort of make a, a deal with the devil and give up freedom for order, I think that Boris has, has made his own deal with the devil, which in this case is, is the Kremlin. BOB GARFIELD: Very well. Matthew Brzezinski, thanks very much! MATTHEW BRZEZINSKI: Thank you. BOB GARFIELD:Matthew Brzezinski is the author of Casino Moscow and most recently a New York Times Magazine piece on the resurgence of the KGB. BROOKE GLADSTONE:A recent poll suggests most Russians don't care much about the situation at NTV. On the Media's Alicia Zuckerman was in Moscow recently and asked Anton, who once did some PR work for NTV about this national tendency toward apathy. ANTON: I think the, the words I will say, they will sound in a very Communist and very bad way, but the Russia has much more heavy problems than a free to democracy. And this problem is disorder. I understand Putin very well. I'm afraid that if I was on his place, probably I would react in the same way. [MUSIC] BROOKE GLADSTONE:The former owner of NTV and the current owner of TVS are what the Russians call "oligarchs" -- very rich men who support free speech as long as it doesn't hurt their business interests. That was the closest thing to free speech Russia achieved under Yeltsin. Under Putin, those men have been chased from the scene, and according to Paul Gobel of Radio Free Europe, the Russian government now controls virtually all the electronic media from which Russians get their news. But Anton, as we just heard, is not unlike most Russians in his ambivalence. A poll taken at the beginning of this year shows that 57 percent of all Russians favor the re-introduction of censorship, up from only 10 percent a few months earlier. The Russian people, veterans of convulsive and dangerous times, seem to fear disorder more than they value press freedom. Are they right? We'd like to hear what you think. Please send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and don't forget to tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name.