Putin takes a hard line on soft power with new broadcaster
Former Fellow Angelina Davydova writes:
Vladimir Putin has drastically restructured Russia's leading state-owned news agency, RIA Novosti, into a new institution, Russia Today, with the aim of promoting the national image worldwide. Head of the new agency Dmitry Kiselyov is notorious for his conservative, anti-gay and anti-Western views.
The agency was set up by a decree, signed by president Putin and published by Kremlin on Monday morning. The same decree announces the closing of another broadcasting company, Voice of Russia, and merging it with the new structure. State-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta and magazine Rodina are also to be reorganised.
Until recently RIA Novosti was one of the largest media outlets in Russia (the other two largest news agencies are state-owned ITAR-TASS and a privately-owned, Interfax). The network comprises 40 information resources working in 22 languages with a widespread network of international correspondents. It also included an economic news agency PRIME, a dedicated science, environment and climate reporting service RIA Nauka (one of the best in its field in Russia), an agency for legal and court information RAPSI (famous for live translations of many publicised cases, such as that of Pussy Riot), as well as the publishing house Moscow News.
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