Update: Two of Russia’s liberal news editors quit in one day

Update: Two of Russia's liberal news editors quit in one day
Left to right: Alexei Vorobyov, former editor-in-chief of Kommersant FM, and Mikhail Kotov, former editor-in-chief of Gazeta (Photograph: RIA Novosti)

5 March 2013

The editors-in-chief of Gazeta.ru and Kommersant FM, two of Russia’s liberal media outlets, left their posts on Monday, Izvestia news reported, citing unnamed sources in the media. Mikhail Kotov, from online newspaper Gazeta.ru, and Alexei Vorobyov, head of the radio arm of Kommersant newspaper, resigned within hours of each other. Vorobyov had only been in his post for seven months. The reason for the resignations is not yet public knowledge.

Writing on his LiveJournal page, Dmitry Sergeyev, a representative of SUP Media, the company that owns Gazeta.ru, provided some insight: “This morning at the planning session I was appointed the executive director of Gazeta.ru with direct oversight of all departments. Earlier, all departments were subordinate to the editor-in-chief and he was responsible for everything that happened at Gazeta.ru. Now, according to the new chain of command, the editorial, marketing, and commercial departments are directly subordinate to me. Mikhail Kotov disagreed categorically, saying that he can’t continue working under these conditions and asked to resign.” He later added that under Kotov, the publication’s output had flagged with only “100 news stories a day”.

A different Dmitry Sergeyev, president of Kommersant Publishing House, told Interfax news agency: “The dismissal of Alexei Vorobyov has nothing to do with the editorial policy of the radio station and is prompted exclusively by personal reasons.”

Kommersant, part of the Kommersant Publishing House, is owned by Alisher Usmanov, a mining magnate worth $17.6bn, according to Forbes magazine. The publishing house has been plagued by scandal over the past year. In December 2011, general director Andrei Galiyev and editor-in-chief of the weekly Kommersant Vlast magazine Maxim Kovalsky were both fired over an issue of the magazine devoted to mass opposition protests sparked by allegedly-rigged parliamentary elections.

SUP Media is owned by Kommersant and Alexander Mamut, a businessman and investor, worth $2.3bn, according to Forbes magazine, who also owns book chain Waterstones.