A power struggle at the top of Russia’s leading business newspaper Vedomosti threatens to stifle one of the last remaining independent voices as censorship and the Kremlin’s own influence steadily widens, reports Thomas Grove of The Wall Street Journal.
Grove reports, “The row at Vedomosti, which means the Record, began shortly after the appointment of a new acting editor in chief in late March, Andrei Shmarov.
“Mr. Shmarov warned reporters that Vedomosti’s prospective new owners, publisher Konstantin Zyatkov and Alexei Golubovich, chair of investment management firm Arbat Capital, should be allowed to make their own editorial decisions about the paper’s direction. The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times had previously sold their interest in the publication in 2015.
“In subsequent weeks, Mr. Shmarov angered staff by insisting on a more positive spin on the doings of state oil giant Rosneft, including a glowing headline about how the Russian government might gain after buying the company’s assets in Venezuela instead of focusing on the investment risks.
“Mr. Shmarov also withdrew a critical opinion piece about Rosneft’s chairman, Igor Sechin, a former KGB agent who previously worked with Mr. Putin’s administration. He raised eyebrows further by instructing editors to refrain from citing opinion surveys from Levada Center, the last major independent polling agency in Russia, according to editors who spoke with him.
“Mr. Shmarov has said it is his prerogative as editor in chief to make the changes.”
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