Nezavisimaya Gazeta Cuts Staff Due to Crisis

Nezavisimaya Gazeta has dismissed 20 journalists and cut salaries for some others because of financial problems related to the economic crisis, the paper's editor and owner said Monday.

Konstantin Remchukov insisted that the staff cuts were aimed at "rationalizing the business structure," adding that the crisis served as a "convenient" pretext for staff dismissals.

"I have a plan to reduce expenses by one-third," Remchukov said by phone.

The paper had laid off 46 employees in total, including 20 of its 100 reporters, and more dismissals could follow, he said.

Editors of some sections had cut reporters' salaries, and the number of pages had been reduced from 24 to 16 because of the rising cost of paper, which has grown by 32 percent since the start of the year.

The head of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, Oleg Panfilov, said other newspapers might also have to make cutbacks, depending on how much money the owners would lose in their other businesses.

The secretary general of the Union of Journalists, Igor Yakovenko, said publications would be affected by the crisis through their two revenue sources: advertising and readers. Several hundred advertisers have gone bankrupt, and readers who have been laid off will have to reduce their expenses on papers.

Yakovenko said Remchukov knew that the paper could find itself in financial constraints and "fired the employees in advance without waiting for a cash shortage."