RIA Novosti Employees Await Word on Fate of News Agency
Published: February 28, 2014 (Issue # 1799)
Less than two weeks ahead of the deadline set by the Kremlin for the abolishment of major state-funded news agency RIA Novosti, its employees say they still lack details about what will happen to their jobs or when the company will cease its work.
The wire service is set to make way for a new agency to be called Rossia Segodnya by March 9, according to President Vladimir Putin's decree issued in early December. The stated goal of the new agency is to improve Russia's image abroad while spending less state money on the task than RIA Novosti did.
Related: Putin Shuts State News Agency
The dissolution of RIA Novosti and creation of Rossia Segodnya, which translates as "Russia Today," are part of what is largely viewed as a consolidation of the country's media under Kremlin control.
Other actions seen as part of this trend include the appointment earlier this month of a former deputy head of the pro-Kremlin Voice of Russia radio station as chief executive of opposition-leaning radio station Ekho Moskvy; and a wave of pressure on independent television channel Dozhd, which has said it may have to shut down after major cable operators dropped it following criticism by prominent officials of a poll it ran related to World War II.
Several people linked to news reporting at RIA Novosti told The St. Petersburg Times on condition of anonymity that they had not been informed by their bosses about their fate.
"It is amazing that we do not learn anything from our bosses. We are living on rumors and learning news [about the reform] from news feeds," a female employee of the company said by phone. She said she did not know whether any of her colleagues had been invited to work at Rossia Segodnya.
But even if some are worried about their possible dismissal or the expected shift in the editorial policy of the new agency compared with that of RIA Novosti, the concerns are apparently not seriously affecting the work environment.
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