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Reporters Without Borders Concerned About Editorial Interference At Vedomosti

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says it is concerned about interference into the editorial decisions at Vedomosti that journalists at the business daily say undermine trust in the publication.

Editors of the Moscow newspaper have been under pressure to change the newspaper's editorial line since it was bought in March, RSF said in a news release on April 24.

RSF called the interference "a new blow to independent journalism in Russia" and a further step in the takeover of the Russian media by people close to the government.

As an example, RSF said the daily was recently barred from publishing polls from the Levada Center or mentioning its name after some of its polls irritated the Kremlin.

Jeanne Cavelier, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia office of RSF, said the organization denounced this kind of pressure and stands by the editorial staff.

Journalists at Vedomosti this week publicly accused acting Editor in Chief Andrei Shmarov of imposing pro-Kremlin censorship and suggested the board of directors replace him.

In an editorial posted on the newspaper's website, the journalists complained that Shmarov had banned the publication of Levada polls.

"Changes of this kind undermine trust in the publication," the editorial said.

Vedomosti's media reporter had earlier complained that Shmarov banned negative coverage of President Vladimir Putin's plans to change the constitution to allow him to extend his rule until 2036. She said anyone who flouted the ban would be fired.

Shmarov told Reuters he had not threatened to fire anyone and that his editorial decisions were his own, not the result of any instructions given by anyone else, including the government.

Vedomosti continues publishing news items on subjects that he had been accused of banning, he added.

Based on reporting by Reuters

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

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