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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Russian newspaper in state hands
Russian press graphic
The Kremlin is accused of too much control over the media
Russia's gas giant, Gazprom, has announced it has bought Izvestia - one of the country's oldest newspapers.

The Gazprom Media holding company bought more than 50% of Izvestia's shares from the media group controlled by Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin.

Gazprom controls several media outlets including the television station NTV.

Correspondents say Izvestia's takeover is likely to be seen as another step toward the Kremlin's control of Russia's privately-owned media.

"For us ... it was of great importance to acquire a respected publication like Izvestia," said Nikolai Senkevich, general director of Gazprom Media.

"In so doing we have covered virtually the last segment of the market where our holding was not present," he said in a statement.

IZVESTIA
Based: Moscow
Founded: 1917
Circulation: 190,000 ( 2003)

The centrist Izvestia daily is viewed by many observers as Russia's paper of record.

It is printed and distributed in many countries including the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, Israel, Germany, Britain, Japan and the US.

Izvestia was founded on 28 February 1917.

Popular during the Soviet era, it continues to attract a wide readership, although it has long been regarded as a particular favourite among intellectuals and academics.

The paper tends to steer clear of overt criticism of the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin.

The US has accused Mr Putin of wielding too much power and has called for a free and independent media in Russia.

Russia has more than 22,000 newspapers, but almost all are owned by pro-government or powerful business interests that constrain their reporting.

Last month, the Russian government announced plans to bring Gazprom directly under government control.




SEE ALSO:
The press in Russia
03 Mar 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Russia
16 Mar 04 |  Country profiles


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