June 15, 2020 / 1:09 PM / 21 days ago

Editors quit Russian newspaper, accusing boss of pro-Kremlin censorship

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Five senior editors at Vedomosti, one of Russia’s most prominent business newspapers, resigned on Monday in protest at the appointment of an editor-in-chief they say has applied pro-Kremlin censorship to its coverage.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Russian business newspaper Vedomosti is seen displayed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

Their resignation, reported by Vedomosti itself, occurred after the publication’s acting editor-in-chief, Andrei Shmarov, was confirmed to the post by the publisher’s board of directors.

The five editors - Dmitry Simakov, Boris Safronov, Philip Sterkin, Kirill Kharatyan and Alexander Gubsky - all served as Shmarov’s deputies, Vedomosti reported.

“We do not find it possible to work with an editor-in-chief who with his actions has shown that he doesn’t care about rules, standards and principles,” Safronov, a deputy editor-in-chief who has worked for the paper since 1999, told Reuters.

Shmarov said on Monday the resignation of his deputies represented a major loss for the newspaper, which he said would continue its operations.

One reporter in April publicly complained that Shmarov had forbidden negative coverage of President Vladimir Putin’s plans to change the constitution so that he could potentially stay in power until 2036, and said that Shmarov had threatened to fire those who defied the ban.

Others said Shmarov had barred publication of opinion polls carried out by a research firm that had irritated the Kremlin.

Shmarov told Reuters at the time that he had not threatened to sack anyone and that his editorial decisions were his own and not the result of any instructions given by anyone else, including from any government or business structure.

Until recently, Vedomosti had been widely regarded as one of the few high profile publications in Russia not to be under the direct control of the authorities or businessmen with ties to the Kremlin.

Shmarov was appointed acting editor-in-chief at the end of March, after it was announced that two businessmen would be buying the newspaper. Journalists had called for the newspaper’s management to appoint someone else.

Additional reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya Editing by Mark Heinrich

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