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Former Iranian Deputy Culture Minister Accused Of Financial Abuse

The allegations are aimed at former Deputy Culture Minister Mohammad Ali Ramin
PRAGUE -- A former Iranian deputy culture minister has been accused by an ex-colleague of abusing the newspaper subsidy system, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The accusation against Mohammad Ali Ramin was made by the former head of the ministry's foreign press department, Mohammad Hossein Khoshvakht.

The daily "Mardomsalari" quoted Khoshvakht as saying that Ramin allocated 130 million tomans (around $125,000) in subsidies to a newspaper that was never published. Khoshvakht also said that during Ramin's term at the ministry, 40 percent of press subsidies were given to just five progovernment dailies.

Ramin, who is President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's adviser on the Holocaust, whose authenticity the president regularly questions, served as deputy minister for media affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance from November 2009 through December 2010.

Iran-based journalist Hassan Fathi told Radio Farda on January 18 that journalistic excellence is not a factor in determining which newspapers in Iran receive subsidies from the government or Culture Ministry.

"The more they [editors] are subservient and close to the government, the more subsidies they receive," Fathi said. He added that such newspapers are also entitled to a greater share of government advertising.

Fathi recalled that during Ramin's tenure as deputy minister, a number of newspapers objected to his discriminatory approach, which was particularly damaging to independent newspapers.