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Steel Sale, Censured Dumas Deputy, Media Forum

A metalworker works at the Iron and Steel Factory in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in 2008
A metalworker works at the Iron and Steel Factory in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in 2008

Motives Behind Steel Deal Examined

The Industrial Union of Donbass, one of the largest Ukrainian steel groups, has been sold to a Russian consortium that includes Russian steel giant Evraz. According to reports in “Kommersant” and “The Financial Times,” Vladimir Putin personally coordinated the purchase. Ukrainian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko was also involved, and the state-owned Vneshekonombank reportedly provided credit.

In an interview with RFE/RL, financial analyst Andrei Sotnik refutes observers’ conclusions that the deal is advantageous for Evraz and says it is purely politically motivated. “If one of the high-positioned Russian politicians needed to urgently to provide material help to one of the candidates...on the eve of elections in Ukraine -- this would be a very effective way of doing so," he says.

[read in Russian]

Deputy Suspended For “Unethical” Financial Inquiry Proposal

On Wednesday, the State Duma voted overwhelmingly to suspend the rights of deputy Nikolai Ryabov (Communist Party – KPRF) to participate in debates in the chamber. The one-month suspension penalizes Ryabov for putting forward a "protocol order" to investigate the financing of the Russian regions’ representations to the federal government in Moscow.

Aleksandr Gurov, the head of the Duma’s Ethics Commission that proposed censuring Ryabov, said the latter’s initiative was unethical because it contained unsubstantiated claims that regional representations were widely used to embezzle public money.

Ryabov clarifies the order's goals to RFE/RL. “In the protocol order I said it would be difficult to come up with a more kleptocratic item in the regional budgets... I’m asking for an explanation for the necessity of these expenditures and the logic of financing these representations,” he says.

[read in Russian]

Month-Long Media Forum Begins In Moscow

On January 13, the first National Media Forum opened in Moscow. The month-long program includes speeches and discussions with leading editors, and the launch of new media projects such as the newspaper “Sibir” and “Novoye televidenie Kubani.”

Aidan White, the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, tells RFE/RL that the forum will provide an opportunity to discuss the crisis currently facing journalism, which he says is caused both by threats to journalists and by the rapid changes facing the media industry.

According to Yasen Yasursky, president of the journalism faculty at Moscow State University, in the world in general, faith in the press and especially television and radio journalism is receding. “I think it is especially important for journalism to be more analytical... There is practically no TV journalism left,” Yasursky says.

[read in Russian]