Russian reporters resign en masse in row over Putin ally report
A senior editor and 10 journalists at Russian daily newspaper Kommersant said on Monday they were resigning to protest against the firing of two colleagues over an article about a possible reshuffle of President Vladimir Putin’s close allies, Reuters reports from Moscow.
The resignations, involving Kommersant’s entire political staff, highlight tensions between publishers and newspaper staff in Russia’s closely controlled media landscape, which is dominated by pro-Kremlin state outlets.
The two reporters, Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov, said they had been forced to quit after Kommersant’s publishing house — owned by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov — took umbrage at an article they authored in April.
Kommersant, a leading business broadsheet acquired by Usmanov in 2006, said it was not immediately able to respond to a Reuters request for comment.
A representative for Usmanov said separately that “the shareholder does not interfere in editorial policy, let alone make decisions on dismissing or employing journalists.”
Usmanov had learnt about the firing of the journalists from media reports, the representative said.
The article in question, published on 17 April, cited unnamed sources as saying that Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the upper house of parliament, could be replaced by Sergei Naryshkin, head of the SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, in the coming months.
It was not clear what the disagreement over the article was.
Spokespeople for Matviyenko and Naryshkin at the time dismissed the report, which is still available on Kommersant’s website, as “rumours”.
Gleb Cherkasov, Kommersant’s politics editor, said he and 10 colleagues were quitting in solidarity with Safronov and Ivanov, an exodus that outgoing reporter Vsevolod Inutin said amounted to the newspaper’s entire political section. DM
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