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Key Opposition Paper Lost Sponsor
December 14, 2012 21:39

Novaya Gazeta has lost its key sponsor after he fell out of favour with the Kremlin.

Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB agent turned banker and newspaper baron, worth $1.1bn according to Forbes, has stopped funding to one of Russia’s leading opposition and investigative newspapers, Novaya Gazeta.

Love of press

The move comes a month after he mentioned Novaya Gazeta, and not the bank or anything else, as his main cause he can pride himself on over the past seven years. The statement was made in one of his weekly reflections posted on Youtube in November 2012.

Lebedev bought the edition in 2006 together with Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and the last Soviet president.

Moving on

Dmitry Muratov, Novaya Gazeta’s editor-in-chief, believes the edition can survive thanks to the growing ad revenues, cost optimization schemes. The paper insists it does not plan any layoffs.

Another option, the edition says, is for Lebedev to hand over his stake in the newspaper to journalists so that they could find an investor themselves.

Falling out with the Kremlin

Lebedev and his bank, National Reserve Bank, have come under increasing pressure from Russia’s security services due to what the businessman calls his relentless criticism of state corruption.

In particular, he is facing up to 5 years in prison as part of a criminal case that was opened on hooliganism charges after he punched Sergey Polonsky, a property developer, in the face live on Russian television.

In his November weekly podcast on Youtube, he voiced a theory that it was his Novaya Gazeta that angered movers and shakers in the higher echelons of power.

In that video he says he will focus on Novaya Gazeta, because he doesn't see he has future as a businessman in Russia.

Lebedev is also the owner of four UK newspapers, the London Evening Standard, The Independent, the Independent on Sunday and the new i newspaper.

Read more on his biography and career in a Russia-IC article here.

Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Russian banks Russian media    

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