Ryhor Kisiel, Chairman of the Board, All-National Television

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Ryhor Kisiel, Chairman of the Board, All-National Television

If it is true that one can never step into the same river twice, it does not apply to Ryhor Kisiel. Ryhor is a long-standing supporter of Aleksandr Lukashenko and he twice headed the most popular Belarusian TV channel - ObsheNatsionalnoye Televideniye (ONT), (All-National Television).

Ryhor Kisiel’s career began in Mogilev where he established the first regional non-governmental newspaper Mogilevskiye vedomosti in the years of perestroika. In the first years of the Belarus’ sovereignty Kisiel actively collaborated with the popular deputy Aleksandr Lukashenko. Kisiel became one of the leaders at Lukashenko’s regional campaign headquarters, and after his victory in 1994, Kisiel headed the only existing at that time all-national television and radio holding – the National Television and Radio Company of Belarus.

As Ryhor Kisiel directed the National Television and Radio Company of Belarus, the government tightened control over TV. When Kisiel proved his absolute loyalty to the Head of the state he was allowed to create a ‘de jure’ non-governmental public TV channel - ONT. This new channel had been assigned to the frequencies used by the former major governmental channel in the USSR - and later Russia – ORT. Kisiel had skillfully imitated the Russian channel and replaced all the main Russian news and information programmes with his own products. The trap shut: the more Belarusian products were broadcast on ONT, the less information uncontrolled by the Belarusian authorities remained on television. To a certain extent, it stopped Russian information expansion in Belarus.

Kisiel turned out to be irreplaceable. After his return from Romania where he worked for some time as Belarusian Ambassador, Aleksandr Lukashenko re-appointed him as the ONT Chairman of the Board. 

Grigori Kisel on the role of media in society, Grigori Kisel on the discharge of journalist Siarhei Dorofeev, Grigori Kisel on the dialogue between the state and the opposition, Grigori Kisel figures in a criminal case

Author: Handbook on Belarus for International journalists