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‘FT’ and ‘WSJ’ warn that top Russian business newspaper could face bankruptcy due to ongoing editorial conflict

Source: Vedomosti

The ongoing conflict over censorship at the newspaper Vedomosti threatens either to bring the newspaper under the Kremlin’s control or drive it to the verge of bankruptcy, if its potential sale collapses, says an April 29 article from The Financial Times, which states that “Arbat Capital” director Alexey Golubovich — a prospective buyer for the newspaper — has pulled out of the Vedomosti deal because of scandals involving the paper's controversial acting editor-in-chief. Golubovich’s withdrawal was previously reported by The Bell.

Vedomosti also published an article featuring excerpts from the FT piece and an editorial from The Wall Street Journal. The two publications founded and formerly co-owned Vedomosti.

“A crucial part of Vladimir Putin’s consolidation of power in Russia has been his erosion of the country’s free press. Few publications remain outside Kremlin control, and now the country’s leading business daily is on the brink of losing its independence,” the WSJ editorial says.

  • Until 2015, the publisher of The Financial Times (the British company “FT Group”) and the publisher of The Wall Street Journal (the American company “Dow Jones & Co”) co-owned Vedomosti, along with the Russo-Finnish media group “Sanoma.” After Russia passed a law forbidding foreign owners from holding more than 20 percent of Russian media companies, the publishers sold their share to a group of investors led by Demyan Kudryavtsev (the former publisher of the Russian business newspaper Kommersant).
  • In March 2020, Vedomosti’s owners announced a preliminary agreement to sell the newspaper to the head of the “Versiya” publishing house, Konstantin Zyatkov, and “Arbat Capital” director Alexey Golubovich. Soon thereafter, Andrey Shmarov was appointed as acting editor-in-chief. He promptly alienated the staff with insensitive comments and multiple attempts to censor Vedomosti’s reporting.
  • Shmarov refused to tell FT whether or not he had discussed Vedomosti’s publications with anyone from the Kremlin, saying that the authorities were not influencing any changes at the newspaper. “I make all decisions at my own discretion,” he said.
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