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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June, 2005, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Russia to launch English TV news
By Sebastian Usher
BBC world media correspondent

President Vladimir Putin on TV screen in Moscow shop
The Russian state has influential friends on the main channels
Russia is setting up a new 24-hour, English-language news channel in a bid to improve its image internationally.

Reports in the Russian media say the station will be called Russia Today and should be launched towards the end of the year.

The reports say the station is being put together by two of President Vladimir Putin's key media advisers.

The Kremlin under Mr Putin has taken almost complete control of domestic TV media in the past few years.

This has curtailed the independence that had grown under Mr Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.

But this tight news management at home has not translated into a positive image abroad. Instead, it has helped add to the sense of growing authoritarianism in the Kremlin that is reflected in much of the international coverage about Russia.

Now, the authorities are hoping to present a more positive impression of the country through a satellite news station that will transmit in the English language for 24 hours a day to Europe, America and parts of Asia.

'Propaganda'

The Russian newspaper Izvestia says the station will employ about 200 journalists and will draw on the resources of the state-controlled news agency RIA-Novosti and the TV station Rossiya.

The initial budget is reported to be about $30m (16m or 24m euros), secured in loans from commercial banks.

Former Information Minister Mikhail Lesin and Mr Putin's spokesman Alexei Gromov are the driving forces behind the channel.

The project has been a long-standing aim of Mr Lesin, who once warned that Russians - in his words - "must do propaganda for ourselves - or else we'll always look like bears".


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