The founder of Russian news website Lenta.ru, the popular blogger Anton Nossik, has announced the launch of at least four new online media publications in collaboration with former Lenta.ru staff who resigned en masse in March over censorship concerns. In an interview on Rain TV yesterday, Nossik said he would not recreate Lenta.ru but use it as a guide for his new project. He said: “It will be at least four projects that reflect some of the most unforgettable parts of Lenta’s history, like Lenta-science and Lenta-technology. Basically, it’ll feature the projects that need to be revived.”
Investors for the new projects have already been found, with sponsors offering more than what is necessary, according to Nossik. He said: “I’ve figured out that the most expensive project to be would cost $2m. Last week, investors who I’d approached offered me $6m.”
Nossik made reference to the unexpected dismissal of Lenta.ru’s editor-in-chief, Galina Timchenko, last month, which prompted his decision to launch a raft of new projects. In mid-March, Timchenko was replaced by Alexei Goreslavsky, the former editor of pro-government newspaper Vzglyad which led to the resignation of scores of Lenta.ru journalists. The decision was taken by the newspaper’s owner, oligarch Alexander Mamut.
“Out of a team of 83 people, 75 resigned,” said Nossik. “The people who have left Lenta have not gone away. These are top-class professionals who will be part of the launch of at least four projects come 1 September this year. Naturally, nothing relating to Lenta.ru will be in our name, though I have yet to come up with our projects’ new names.”
Russia’s media landscape has seen numerous changes in recent months, with a number of editorial reshuffles at some of Russia’s best-known independent news outlets seen as growing censorship from the government. Following Lenta.ru’s change in editor, the blocking of numerous opposition websites and blogs, and the dissolution of state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, many journalists have expressed fears of government interference in the media sphere.
Yesterday, opposition activists held a march in central Moscow calling for freedom of speech and an open society in Russia. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people attended the rally which featured speeches and an award for poor journalism, which mocked news coverage by Russain state televsion. The rally was organised by Novaya Gazeta columnist Dmitry Bykov.