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Russian radio host says fired over Crimea broadcast

© 2014 AFP

23 March 2014

The host of a news show on a Moscow radio station said Sunday he had been fired for questioning Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Vladimir Semago, who hosted "In My Own Words" on Capital Radio, said he had been fired last week after hosting a live broadcast in the Russian capital on the day Crimea voted to sever its ties to Ukraine and join Russia.

Semago told Echo of Moscow radio that he had tried to "talk to people and find out whether they are really all so united" behind Russia's move to absorb the breakaway peninsula.

"For that, I received yet another rebuke, an accusation of being unethical and acting provocatively," he said.

"The radio station has chosen for itself the path of supporting the Russian president (Vladimir Putin) in joining Crimea to Russia."

The editor-in-chief of Capital Radio, a talk-radio station that broadcasts in Moscow and the surrounding region, questioned Semago's version of events.

"It's very fashionable to use a political position on Crimea as an explanation now. You just need to work professionally, that's all," Roman Babayan told Echo of Moscow.

He said the station would release a statement on Monday.

Semago said he did not oppose Crimea becoming part of Russia but was uneasy with the way the annexation was implemented.

"I don't reject the idea itself in principle, but I feel alienated and antagonised by the methods used, by the haste that was shown to us all in completely neglecting procedure for taking decisions," he told Echo of Moscow.

Semago, a businessman and former lawmaker, had worked at the radio station for two years.

He served as a Communist lawmaker in the 1990s before being expelled from the party and later serving for a term as an MP for the ruling United Russia party.

There are fewer and fewer outlets in the Russian media for political views in opposition to the Kremlin.

The long-serving editor of a major independent news site, Lenta.ru, was fired this month after a warning from a government watchdog over its coverage of Ukraine.