MOSCOW (Reuters) – Journalists at Vedomosti, one of Russia’s most prominent business publications, on Thursday accused their editor of imposing stifling pro-Kremlin censorship upon them and suggested the board of directors appoint someone else.
In a blunt editorial article published on the newspaper’s website, journalists complained that Acting Editor-in-Chief Andrei Shmarov had banned the publication of opinion polls carried out by a research firm that has irritated the Kremlin.
A day earlier, the newspaper’s media reporter, KseniyaBoletskaya, had publicly complained that Shmarov had banned negative coverage of President Vladimir Putin’s plans to change the constitution to allow him to extend his rule until 2036.
The paper this month published a Levada poll that found that 38 percent of Russians believe that Putin represents the interests of oligarchs, bankers, and big business.
Asked about staff claims of censorship at Vedomosti, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin did not interfere in media outlets’ editorial policy and was unaware of the ban on Levada polling.
Vedomosti has until now 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 close 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.