Russian media group RBC - which was critical of Kremlin - sold to rival tabloid

A Russian media group which angered some in the Kremlin was sold on Friday to the owner of a tabloid that is deferential to Putin

Reuters June 17, 2017 16:52:37 IST
Russian media group RBC - which was critical of Kremlin - sold to rival tabloid

Moscow: A Russian media group which angered some in the Kremlin by reporting on the business interests of people close to President Vladimir Putin was sold on Friday to the owner of a tabloid that is deferential to the Russian leader.

Businessman Grigory Berezkin's ESN group said in a statement it has acquired a 65 percent stake in the RBC media holding, plus debt, from Onexim Group, which is controlled by metals magnate Mikhail Prokhorov.

The completion of the deal marks the end of a seven-year period when RBC under the ownership of Prokhorov published hard-hitting investigations, including into the business affairs of Putin's inner circle.

It stood out from most of the mainstream media in Russia, which are either controlled by the state or state-run companies, or tend to steer clear of topics which could anger powerful officials.

Russian media group RBC  which was critical of Kremlin  sold to rival tabloid

File image of Vladimir Putin. AP

In 2016, according to several people familiar with the Kremlin's thinking, some figures close to Putin grew angry with RBC's coverage. Around the same time, Russian law enforcement officers in ski masks raided the offices of Onexim.

Soon after, the media group's editor-in-chief left the country, and new senior managers were brought in from a state-run news agency. A large proportion of the group's journalists resigned, saying they anticipated restrictions on the topics on which they could report.

"Apparently the asset became toxic, and they (the owners) wanted to get rid of it," Elizaveta Osetinskaya, the former editor-in-chief, told Reuters on Friday.

The Kremlin has always denied having pressured RBC over its reporting or being involved in Prokhorov's decision to sell.

The deal has been under negotiation for weeks. Financial details have not been disclosed. Berezkin, the new owner, already owns the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid newspaper.

Its pages are usually dominated by crime stories and celebrity gossip. Critical reporting on the president or his senior allies is rare in the newspaper.

A spokeswoman for ESN group declined to comment on whether the new owner would change RBC's senior staff or editorial policy.

Osetinskaya, the former editor, said that after her departure last year, RBC had continued to report independently. She said when it gave prominent coverage to anti-Kremlin protests in March, she thought that might lead to problems for the group.

"Perhaps they did not restrain themselves sufficiently," she said of RBC's current management.

Updated Date:

also read

China asks Taliban to make 'clean break' with all terrorist forces, return to mainstream Afghan politics
World

China asks Taliban to make 'clean break' with all terrorist forces, return to mainstream Afghan politics

Meanwhile, Russia on Wednesday said that the Taliban is a 'current reality' in Afghanistan and it must deal with the problem of terrorism and other related issues in order to become legitimate

Watch: Golden toilet, kitchen found in Russian police officer's mansion during corruption probe
World

Watch: Golden toilet, kitchen found in Russian police officer's mansion during corruption probe

The police officer has been identified as Colonel Alexey Safonov of Russia's Stavropol region. He is reportedly accused of running a mafia gang along with his 35 officers.

Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos have opened up space for travel but not everyone can access it
World

Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos have opened up space for travel but not everyone can access it

Many private players are trying to make inroads into the space industry but the cost of travelling into the unknown is still very steep making it inaccessible for many.