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Putin Shuts State News Agency

RIA Novosti said the decision signaled a strengthening of the Kremlins grip over media in the country.

Published: December 11, 2013 (Issue # 1790)

  • Late-afternoon traffic zooms past the massive headquarters of the RIA Novosti news agency in Moscow.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / spt

MOSCOW President Vladimir Putin on Monday issued a decree ordering the liquidation of RIA Novosti, the massive state-owned news agency, and mandated the creation of a new global news agency to be headed by an aggressively pro-Kremlin television host.

In its own article about the news, RIA Novostis English-language service said the decision signaled a strengthening of the Kremlins grip over media in the country.

The move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russias news landscape, which appear to point toward a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector, the news service wrote.

The presidential decree came as a shock to the Russian media scene including to RIA Novosti employees, who were not informed of their agencys reorganization ahead of time. One employee of the agency, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the corporate New Years party had been canceled and that everyone was demoralized.

Another RIA Novosti employee said they were told that after a change in leadership over the next month, the organization could be sold off piece-by-piece to other Russian media companies.

Kremlin administration head Sergei Ivanov justified the decision to shut the agency on financial grounds, while also admitting to the soft power purposes behind its replacement, to be called Rossia Segodnya.

The new agency is a more rational use of budgetary funds allocated to state information resources, and we are talking about reducing and not increasing funding, Ivanov told journalists, Interfax reported.

Russia is pursuing an independent policy, firmly protecting its national interests and explaining this to the world is not easy, but it can and must be done, Ivanov said.

The direct translation of Rossia Segodnya is Russia Today, the former name of state-owned English-language television channel RT. The new agency apparently will remain separate from RT, however, while it remains unclear what languages it will publish in.

RIA Novosti is the successor of the Soviet Information Bureau, founded in 1941 to cover World War II. It has since become Russias most prominent news agency and is considered one of the most objective media outlets in the Russian governments large array of holdings. The agency has hundreds of employees, including in 69 cities across Russia and in 49 countries.

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Wednesday, Apr. 23

Problems facing the elderly are in the spotlight at Senior Generation 2014, an international forum at LenExpo beginning today that focuses on drawing attention to and providing information about some of societys most vulnerable members. An exhibition combined with a trade fair will help those interested be better equipped to help this demographic.

Thursday, Apr. 24

Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegations visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.

AmChams Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.

Friday, Apr. 25

Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finlands Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from

Saturday, Apr. 26

At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping malls Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.

Sunday, Apr. 27

Families shouldnt miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.

Monday, Apr. 28

The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBAs Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.

Tuesday, Apr. 29

Improve your English at the British Book Centers Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.