Russian oligarch Berezkin buys independent media group RBC

By bne IntelliNews June 19, 2017

Tycoon Grigory Berezkin has acquired a 65% stake in the leading Russian media group RBC, Dozhd television network reported on June 16.

According to the report, Berezkin, who already owns the Komsomolskaya Pravda and Metro newspapers, signed a deal with the group's current owner Mikahil Prokhorov.

RBC first mentioned that the company could be up for sale in April 2017, triggering speculation that the Kremlin could have pressured Prokhorov to shed one of the few major remaining news outlets in Russia that still enjoy a fair degree of independence.

In May 2016, three of RBC's top editors left the media group amidst allegations that its investigative reporting on the Panama Papers controversy had upset Kremlin officials.

At the time, former chief editor Yelizaveta Osetinskaya was quoted by the Financial Times as saying that RBC's work was comparable to "waving a red rag" at the Kremlin.

Another investigative report that allegedly enraged top officials was on the wealth of President Vladimir Putin's alleged family members and a Black Sea mansion dubbed "Putin's Palace".

Meanwhile, during his phone-in on June 15, Putin spoke favourably of RBC, saying that Russia "needs media like that".

Berezkin promised not to interfere with the outlet's editorial policy.

"I'm not going to interfere with the editorial policy at all," he was quoted as saying by Vedomosti on June 19. "This is Pandora's box, you open it once, and then you have problems all over."

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