On May 20, it became known that two leading journalists of the publication, special correspondent Ivan Safronov and editor Maxim Ivanov, are being fired from Kommersant. They left the publishing house at the request of the owner Alisher Usmanov because of an article about the possible departure of Valentina Matvienko from the post of chairman of the Federation Council. Following Ivanov and Safronov, “Kommersant” left another 11 journalists, including the entire political department, in disagreement with the “decision of the shareholder”.
In April, Kommersant published an article about the possible departure of Valentina Matvienko from the Federation Council
On April 17, Kommersant published an article entitled “Making Speakers from These People.” With reference to its own sources, the publication reported that in May, the Chairman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, will meet with President Vladimir Putin - her possible departure from office will be discussed at the meeting. One of the sources reported that the probability of leaving Matvienko "extremely high."
An unnamed high-ranking federal official told Kommersant that Matvienko could head the Pension Fund. According to the publication, its place in the Federation Council may take the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin.
The article had five authors at once: Deputy Editor of the Policy Department Maxim Ivanov, special correspondent Ivan Safronov, correspondent of the Policy Department Natalia Korchenkova, correspondent of the Economics Department Anastasia Manuylova and editor of this department Oleg Sapozhkov.
At the same time, material on the possible resignation of Matvienko released Rain. In her, a representative of Valentina Matvienko denied information about the care.
The pressure on journalists began immediately after the publication of the article. A month later, two of its authors were forced to leave the newspaper.
According to sources from Medusa who are familiar with the situation, the pressure from the shareholder Kommersant - the publication belongs to billionaire Alisher Usmanov - began just a few days after the article was published. According to them, Valentina Matvienko herself was especially dissatisfied with the article. A spokesman for Matvienko said the senator would not comment on the article and events at Kommersant.
The source "Medusa" claims that initially because of the text they were going to dismiss the editor-in-chief and general director of "Kommersant" Vladimir Zhelonkin, but he managed to agree with the owners. As a result, shareholders decided that some authors of the article would quit. “[We] tried for a long time to convince shareholders not to do this, it didn’t work,” said one of the journalists who quit in protest against what was happening.
On May 20, two authors of an article about Matvienko, Maxim Ivanov and Ivan Safronov, reported that they were forced to leave Kommersant by agreement of the parties. Ivanov worked at Kommersant since 2009: he came to the publication as an intern and rose to the position of deputy editor. Ivan Safronov also worked at Kommersant for about 10 years and was one of the leading authors of the newspaper.
Both journalists stressed that they had left by the decision of the owner of the publishing house. Safronov added that the shareholder expressed “serious complaints” to the material about Valentin Matvienko. What are the claims, he did not specify. Safronov declined to comment on Medusa; Ivanov said that the details of the situation should be asked from the leadership of the publication.
The chief editor and general director of Kommersant, Vladimir Zhelonkin, said that he made the decision to leave the journalists on his own, without pressure from shareholders. “We broke up with the journalists, because the editorial standards of Kommersant were violated during the preparation of the note,” he explained to Vedomosti. In a conversation with Medusa, Zhelonkin added that he had seen material about Matvienko before publication, but information about a violation of editorial standards appeared to him only after the publication of the text. What exactly were the violations, Zhelonkin "Medusa" did not explain (he also refused to answer similar questions from "Vedomosti" and the Russian service "BBC"). He refused to talk about the reasons for the departure of other journalists.
A source close to Usmanov commented The Bell on the dismissal of political journalists. “They have adjusted and violated all the written and unwritten rules of ED, journalism and ethics,” the source said, adding that journalists did not use the chance to correct the mistake. He did not clarify exactly what the violations were, but added that this had nothing to do with the content of the article about the alleged dismissal of Matvienko. According to the source of the publication, soon "Kommersant" will make an official statement on this issue.
Following the two journalists, the entire policy department and deputy editor-in-chief left.
Within an hour after the announcement of the dismissal of Ivanov and Safronov, all employees of the Kommersant’s policy department submitted applications for resignation. This was announced by the deputy chief editor of the newspaper Gleb Cherkasov, who will also leave the publication. “A shareholder has the right to make personnel decisions, employees have the right to disagree with them in the only possible way - changing their place of work,” said Cherkasov. From the comment "Medusa" he refused. In total, 13 people left Kommersant, including Ivanov and Safronov.
After the mass dismissal from the publication, another deputy editor-in-chief of Kommersant, Renata Yambaeva, wrote on Facebook that the decision to leave Ivanov and Safronov was taken personally by Alisher Usmanov, “made” by his representative, head of USM Foundation Ivan Streshinsky, and implemented by Vladimir Zhelonkin.
Yambaeva added that the editors tried to protect Ivanov and Safronov, but “direct appeals to the shareholder and his representative” did not help. Ivan Streshinsky did not answer the calls of Medusa; Representatives of Usmanov Holding USM at the time of publication of this material did not provide Meduse with their comment.
A special correspondent for Kommersant, Alexander Chernykh, said that the journalists of the publication are waiting for a discussion of the situation with the chief editor Vladimir Zhelonkin.
This is not the first noticeable dismissal of journalists from Kommersant lately.
On March 19, a St. Petersburg journalist Maria Karpenko announced her departure from Kommersant. According to her, the official reason for the dismissal was the publication in its political telegram channel "Rotonda" - the leadership found that posts in the channel "contradict the editorial policy of the publication." Vladimir Zhelonkin explained that he had terminated the contract with Karpenko, since her telegram channel “Rotonda” is not a personal page in social networks, but a separate media. Under the contract, journalists of the publishing house cannot work in other media, he explained.
In the telegram channel "Rotunda" Maria Karpenko wrote that she was fired because of the claims of the Kremlin and the administration of St. Petersburg to how Kommersant covered the election campaign of the temporary governor of the city, Alexander Beglov. She also stated that Zhelonkin explained to her that she dismisses her for "activism incompatible with journalistic status."
Alisher Usmanov intervened in the editorial processes of Kommersant before. In 2011, he fired Andrei Galiyev, General Director of Kommersant-Holding CJSC, and Maxim Kovalsky, Chief Editor of Kommersant-Vlast magazine. The reason for the dismissal, according to Usmanov, was the materials of the publication, "bordering on petty hooliganism." Then a picture of the ballot was published in Vlast magazine - there was a voice for Yabloko in it and the inscription “Putin went to ***”. Because of this, the newsletter was invalid. In an open letter, the authorities of Vlast, under the heading “We Are Forced to Cowardice,” called Kovalsky’s dismissal an “intimidating action”.
In 2017, politician Alexei Navalny tried through court to prove censorship at Kommersant by Alisher Usmanov. The billionaire himself filed a lawsuit against Navalny after the film “He’s not Dimon to You,” stating that Usmanov allegedly gave bribes to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and other officials. Usmanov demanded in court to refute this information, as well as Navalny’s statements that Usmanov had established political censorship in Kommersant. Usmanov won in court.