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Noviye Izvestia 'Closes' After Director Fired

Published: March 4, 2003 (Issue # 848)


MOSCOW - Noviye Izvestia published what editors said was its last issue Friday after a business shake-up they claim will put their independence at risk.

Noviye Izvestia, which has been critical of the Kremlin, suspended publication a week ago after publisher Oleg Mitvol fired Igor Golembiovsky from the post of director, citing discrepancies in the company's financial records. Mitvol said Golembiovsky could remain editor in chief.

In a front-page editorial Friday, Golembiovsky's team said it was quitting.

"Obviously, losing control over the newspaper, we are losing the ability to write and publish what we believe is necessary," the paper said.

However, the team said it would try to save the paper over the next month. "We are saying, 'Until later,' instead of a hopeless 'Farewell,'" they wrote.

Other Russian media reported that the editorial team, which controls a 24-percent stake in the paper, was fighting for the right to the newspaper's name and logo in hopes of reviving the publication with new financial backers. Mitvol manages the other 76-percent stake

The newspaper likened its conflict to a 2001 shake-up at NTV television and last year's closure of Berezovsky's TV6 - both caused by business disputes that journalists said were in fact motivated by the Kremlin's desire to stifle criticism.

The international media-freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders agreed. "Sidelining the editor in chief of Noviye Izvestia and the temporary shutdown of one of the only newspapers critical of the government - that denounces war in Chechnya and human-rights violations - appears too useful to the Kremlin in the run-up to elections to be a coincidence," the group's general secretary, Robert Menard, said in a statement Wednesday.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for the end of this year, and presidential elections in 2004.





 


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