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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Gorbachev invests in major paper
Mikhail Gorbachev (left) with business partner Alexander Lebedev (pic: alebedev.ru)
Mr Gorbachev (left) will own 10% and Mr Lebedev 39% of the paper
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and a business partner have bought a 49% stake in a leading Russian independent newspaper.

Mr Gorbachev told an international media forum in Moscow that Novaya Gazeta - often critical of the Kremlin - should maintain a plurality of views.

Mr Gorbachev pioneered the "glasnost" (openness) policy that demolished decades of Soviet censorship.

Critics say President Vladimir Putin now has too much media influence.

Russia's main television channels are state-controlled and several major newspapers are owned by businesses friendly to the Kremlin.


Novaya Gazeta's chief editor Dmitry Muratov said that by 2007 his newspaper would appear not twice but three times a week.

"I am sure that with his authority, Mr Gorbachev wants to protect us from all possible forms of pressure... We want this newspaper to serve not the state, but society," Mr Muratov said.

The remaining 51% stake in Novaya Gazeta belongs to its staff, who had previously owned the entire paper.

Mr Gorbachev's partner in the venture is Alexander Lebedev, a wealthy businessman and deputy in the Russian parliament. He was once a KGB spy.

Novaya Gazeta is renowned for its investigative reporting - especially exposing government corruption - and criticism of the Kremlin's policies in war-ravaged Chechnya.

"We must strive for independence," Mr Lebedev said. "We don't plan to influence editorial policy, but to boost objectivity."

Novaya Gazeta "criticises the Russian bureaucracy, and is right to do so," he added.

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