Igor Siliverstov is a figure without whom it would certainly be much more boring on the Novgorod media field. Now that one of his projects in the field of media has ended and another has begun, we decided to talk with him about them, as well as about the relationship between the media and the authorities. Igor Alexandrovich was quite frank.
– Your purchase of “your news” in 2017 coincided with the arrival of the governor in the Novgorod region. Were these events, different in their importance, somehow connected?
– Yes, I have already talked about this more than once. My partners and I actively worked in the Okulovsky District, especially after Sergei Kuzmin became its head. They erected a monument to Tsoi there. A rowing canal was also built there by an acquaintance of mine with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We organized concerts and charity auctions in Okulovka. And to cover this, we were interested in cooperation with the regional media. I read the publications of “your news”, especially since Ivan Andreev worked there as a freelancer, he was the chief editor of “Okulovskiye vedomosti”, which we began to publish. And then one day the executive director of Vash Novostey, with whom we spoke, wrote: do we want to buy them. At this time, Governor Mitin resigned and Vladislav Buketov, who owned an online newspaper, apparently wanted to get rid of it. And we began to discuss various options.
– Did you buy it expensive?
– Nobody paid real money then. There was a credit system, we helped them in some other matters.
– You say “we” all the time. And who is it? A group of comrades who made money on the turnover of metal products?
– My partners did not have a task to shine. There was an intention to engage in projects, including with the help of the media. The authorities had nothing to do with this. I knew the governor before, and when he met me he said: you bought something from us. I also knew the governor’s press secretary, Yulia Slutskaya, from her previous work at Maxidom.
– But the initiative of the article against “Novgorod.ru”, because of the disagreement to publish which the editorial board of “VN” resigned – was it whose initiative?
– Yes, I don’t even remember whether there was someone’s initiative … Then there was a conflict with Rostelecom over the huge amount of money for the video recording system. Then, after all, people were condemned because of this. And then an article appeared in favor of Rostelecom. I remember we were sitting in the Mycroft pub – Yulia Slutskaya, Sergei Bondarenko (Director of the Information Communications Agency – Ed.), Nikolai Novichkov (Governor’s Adviser – Ed.) And me. And they talked about the need to react somehow. And then there was this scandal, and the article was reprinted during its discussion by everyone except “your news”. With Mikhail Krivym (editor-in-chief of Novgorod.ru), we then communicated normally, collaborated at Kinoprob. It is a pity that he passed away early.
– At that time I was working in “Your Novosti” and posted a statement on the website on behalf of the editorial board. It seemed to me that during the forum in St. Petersburg with the participation of the governor, it would have a good resonance. Probably, then many people called you?
– Yes, then the St. Petersburg Economic Forum was held, agreements were signed for many millions, Nikolai Novichkov on Palace Square during a concert spoke from the stage about the future rock festival in Okulovka and invited them there. And then this scandal happened. And when I met the governor in St. Petersburg, he told me: “They have hammered the whole positive agenda.”
– Have you often received any proposals from the House of Soviets or, on the contrary, bans?
– Nobody tried to restrict us somehow. The governor and his team are quite free people. Well, it happened, of course, that they said: “What kind of nonsense have you got there?” There was an article that all accountants in hospitals would be fired when the data was transferred to the cloud. They reacted to it, there was some reaction from the road workers …
– I remember that during the presidential press conference in 2017, a question to Vladimir Putin from the Novgorod region was asked by Ulyana Strizh from “your news” …
– Three went there. In my opinion, Anastasia Temmo from Slavia, Lyudmila Aleksandrova from NT and Ulyana. Well, apparently, she was just more active.
– Probably, she came the closest. But the situation with the competition in 2018 during the presidential elections, when it was necessary to raise the turnout and “Your News” played out a competition with prizes for a photo at the polling station – this was probably supervised not even from the House of Soviets, but perhaps from embassy?
– From Moscow. There was a good competition – ten thousand participants, thirty photographers in the jury. The winner received the “Niva”. The turnout, unfortunately, was low in the Novgorod region.
– But the competition was good.
– Yes. It ended well.
– Of course, we chose who we need. And soon the elections were held in Veliky Novgorod, and then the program “Novgorodskoe however” appeared on your website, the host of which did not hesitate in expressions addressed to some candidates. Whose idea was it?
– My idea was. I wanted to bring a little trash into the Novgorod politics. By the way, the presenter did not spare all the parties.
– And also, with your participation, spoiler parties, in my opinion, began to act before the elections – the Union of Citizens, the Greens. After all, this was also needed by someone other than you.
– Why spoilers? In the Novgorod region, unfortunately, due to the poverty of the majority of the population, there is a peculiar attitude towards politics. There is power, but there is “Yabloko”. When people are richer, they will be treated differently. The Greens are the oldest party dealing with environmental problems. The number of the department has grown from almost zero to four hundred people. I resigned from the leadership of the department, as I was engaged in another project related to Zakhar Prilepin. The department is working, as far as I know, three candidates will be nominated to the regional duma.
– Why did your relationship with the head of AiK suddenly deteriorate, Sergei Bondarenko?
– My attitude towards him soured after he spoke very unflatteringly about Sergei Kuzmin, whom I consider my friend, on the air. He is a police colonel, he has been to hot spots, and in Okulovka he is still remembered as a good leader.
– Did your attitude to the governor change after Kuzmin’s resignation?
– Then the chapters were put in some framework. Kuzmin decided that he was not ready to work within such a framework and left. I don’t think there was any conflict here. I have treated and respect the governor. It corresponds to the goals and objectives that it faces. But not everyone in his team performs their tasks professionally enough.
– In 2019, your other project, the Kinoproby rock festival, did not end very well. Why?
– I talked about this more than once. There were a lot of problems. In Okulovka, the head of the flying club demanded payment for the land, which he actually had only for use. Then they demanded the installation of some signs, and it turned out that those installed last year had disappeared somewhere. It so happened that Sergei Kuzmin resigned as head of the district, and the director of Notka, Alexander Vakhrushev, died. And nobody helped us. We didn’t have any grants, unlike The Forgotten Feat. The sponsors, including Baltika, demanded confirmation from us that everything would take place, but we did not have any agreements. And I called a deadline, after which the festival will have to be canceled. And so it happened. By the way, the Kinoproba trademark was later registered by Nashe Radio, which is conducting Nashestvie, with which we tried to compete. But this does not mean that we will no longer be able to hold the festival. However, it is still difficult.
– Why did you sell your news?
– Here two moments coincided. I have a good attitude to Zakhar Prilepin. He had his own publication, Free Press. But recently, their relations with the founder, owner of the Solidarity bank, a deputy from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, deteriorated, and Prilepin had to either buy another media outlet or create a new one. We were offered a fairly good price.
– That is, this time it was not about offsets, but about good money. It’s a pity that if people stayed on the street …
– Nobody stayed on any street. Now we are engaged in a joint project with Novgorod.ru, including in the field of television.
– Do you buy it?
– No, we are talking about cooperation.
– What opinion have you formed about Novgorod journalism over the years?
– Here, as in other areas, poverty affects. Novgorod journalists are good guys with an open visor. But they believe too much what they hear. Few people try to delve into, to understand, for example, in the economy. They react to what has already happened, instead of forming an agenda. We have tried to do this and will continue to work in this direction.