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Moscow's English-Language Weekly To Change Hands, Cut Staff

Current Moscow Times owner Demyan Kudryavtsev (file photo)
Current Moscow Times owner Demyan Kudryavtsev (file photo)

MOSCOW -- A Dutch-registered foundation is reportedly poised to acquire the English-language Moscow Times in a shake-up that is expected to include major staff cuts and a discontinuation of the print version after a quarter-century in the Russian capital.

Owner Demyan Kudryavtsev told The Moscow Times' roughly two dozen employees on June 7 that the transition is a result of chronic losses, adding that the last print run of the free, weekly paper would be issued in early July.

In his announcement, a recording of which was obtained by RFE/RL, Kudryavtsev said no final decision had been made on whether there would be a print version under the new arrangement.

Dutch media the same day quoted Dutch businessman and Moscow Times founder Derk Sauer -- who sold the paper 12 years ago -- as saying the operations would be taken over by a Dutch-registered foundation.

Sauer's role in the process was not specified, and it was unclear if a sale had taken place.

Foreigner-Ownership Law

Sauer, who could not be reached for comment, insisted via Twitter that he was not buying back the outlet, writing: "To secure [Moscow Times'] future, ownership is moved to Foundation. Will invest in to further develop [TMT]."

Kudryavtsev bought The Moscow Times and the Vedomosti business daily after a law passed in 2014 prohibited foreigners from owning more than 20 percent of Russian media outlets.

A Moscow Times employee told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity it was his understanding that the new version of the paper would have a small staff of just 10, including administrative employees and one staff reporter. The reporter said there are currently between 20 and 30 employees.

Founded by Sauer in October 1992, the Moscow Times has served as a launch pad for young journalists cutting their teeth as correspondents in Russia.

Kudryavtsev told Vedomosti on July 7 that he would stay on as a board member, and that Sauer would run the foundation's activities.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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