13 journalists leave Russian ‘Kommersant’ paper
The Russian newspaper Kommersant has been deprived of a ‘politics’ section.
Two Kommersant journalists, Ivan Safonov and Maxim Ivanov, reported on Facebook that they were leaving the newspaper, and not of their own will.
They had been asked to resign. The reason was an article in which the assumption was put forward that the speaker of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matvienko, would soon be leaving her post.
After that, 11 Kommersant journalists — all correspondents of the politics department, the department editor and deputy editor-in-chief who oversaw the department — declared that they had voluntarily resigned as a sign of solidarity with their colleagues.
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The general director and chief editor of Kommersant, Vladimir Zhelonkin, confirmed that Safonov and Ivanov had been fired for a publication which “did not meet the standards” of Kommersant.
Russian independent media and opposition politicians expressed support for the sacked journalists and those who supported their colleagues.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny also expressed his support, but recalled recent history: the main shareholder of Kommersant, Alisher Usmanov, filed a lawsuit against Navalny for claiming that censorship had been introduced in his publication. At the time, none of the Kommersant journalists agreed to support Navalny in court.
What is Kommersant?
Kommersant is a Russian newspaper, and one of the first non-state publications in the USSR. It was first put out in 1990.
In 1999, the founder and owner of Kommersant, Vladimir Yakovlev, sold the publication to well-known political figure Boris Berezovsky. In 2006, he resold the newspaper to Alisher Usmanov, a Russian oligarch who is known for his close ties with the Russian authorities.