‘Kommersant’ board chairman says journalists were fired for refusing to reveal their sources
Ivan Streshinsky, Kommersant’s board chairman and publishing house owner Alisher Usmanov’s representative, told the website The Bell that the firing of journalists Ivan Safronov and Maxim Ivanov is not connected to the content of an article published on April 18 about Federation Council chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko stepping down to clear the way for Russia’s current Foreign Intelligence Service director, Sergey Naryshkin.
Streshinsky says he was informed that the article might have been a planted story, and he asked Kommersant editor-in-chief Vladimir Zhelonkin to investigate the matter, but Safronov and Ivanov reportedly refused to identify their source and “demonstrate the integrity of their work.” Streshinsky says he gave Zhelonkin three days to produce evidence that the story wasn’t planted. Kommersant’s board chairman told The Bell that this proves the article was either planted or the reporters desire a public scandal for some reason. “But we won’t submit to blackmail,” Streshinsky said.
After Safronov and Ivanov were fired, Kommersant’s entire politics desk resigned in protest. In an open letter signed by more than 120 journalists remaining at the newspaper, staff announced that Kommersant will not write about Russian politics in the near future, stating that the newsroom is under direct editorial pressure.