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Last Updated:  Saturday, 1 March, 2003, 09:29 GMT
End of run for Kremlin critic
By Stephen Dalziel
BBC Russian affairs analyst

One of the few independent Russian newspapers to take a critical approach to the Kremlin has closed down.

Journalists at the Novye Izvestiya newspaper published a letter on the front page of Friday's final edition, saying they were no longer able to write what they believed to be necessary.

In the last two years there has been a string of closures of opposition media in Russia.

Final edition of Novye Izvestiya
"New Izvestiya" was founded in 1997 by journalists who left Izvestiya over a takeover battle

The immediate reason for the closure of Novye Izvestiya was the refusal of its journalists to work there any more. They claim that a reshuffle of the paper's staff carried out recently by the board of directors was done so that the paper would project a more pro-Kremlin line.

As such, the Russian authorities can claim to have had nothing to do with the closure.

But this has been so in each of the cases in the past two years when a media outlet has been shut down.

Soviet echoes

In April 2001, the television channel, NTV, was taken over by the media arm of the gas giant, Gazprom, in what was supposed to be a business deal. The result was effectively to censor the station.

A group of NTV's journalists set themselves up at the TV-6 station.

But that was closed down, even though the law used against it had ceased to function by the time the case came to court.

The frequency now broadcasts TVS, which puts out a line fully supporting the Kremlin.

The Russian media was exciting and innovative in the years just after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But during Boris Yeltsin's second term as Russian president, from 1996, censorship began to creep back in.

The loss now of Novye Izvestiya will be seen by many as another step back to the controlled media of Soviet times.

Viewpoint: Russian deja-vu
22 Jan 02 |  Europe
Country profile: Russia
28 Dec 02 |  Country profiles

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