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Russia’s Gadfly RBC Sold to Kremlin-Friendly Media Owner

Group was one of the last major media willing to investigate the hidden dealings of Putin and his circle.

19 June 2017

Russian magnate Mikhail Prokhorov (pictured) has sold a majority stake in the RBC media group to a businessman seen as more friendly toward the Kremlin.

 

The buyer was ESN group, controlled by Grigory Berezkin, which publishes the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda and the Metro newspaper, The Moscow Times reports.

 

ESN acquired a 65 percent stake in RBC, plus debt, the company said in a statement 16 June, according to Reuters.

 

RBC “stood out from most of the mainstream media in Russia, which are either controlled by the state or state-run companies, or tend to steer clear of topics which could anger powerful officials,” Reuters writes, going on to describe Berezkin as “deferential” to President Vladimir Putin.

 

RBC’s April announcement that Prokhorov was seeking to sell the holding prompted speculation that the Kremlin had lost patience with its independent-minded reporting, The Moscow Times says.

 

Police raided several of Prokhorov’s businesses including his investment arm Onexim in April 2016 for reasons that remain unclear, sparking speculation of a campaign designed to force Prokhorov into selling RBC.

 

RBC was said to have angered the Kremlin with its reports on the wealth of one of Putin’s daughters. It was the first Russian outlet to reveal the offshore holdings of dozens of Russian officials and their family members named in the Panama Papers leaks.

 

 

  • Three top editors left RBC in May 2016 amid speculation its Panama Papers reporting had angered government officials, The Moscow Times says.

 

  • "Apparently the asset became toxic, and they [the owners] wanted to get rid of it," Elizaveta Osetinskaya, former RBC editor-in-chief who resigned in protest against the dismissal of its chief editor, told Reuters.

 

  • Prokhorov, who also owns the Brooklyn Nets NBA franchise, has been selling his Russian assets and now has more assets in New York than in Moscow, a Nets fan publication says, citing Bloomberg.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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