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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Parliament Votes to Take Control of Izvestia

The Russian parliament voted Tuesday to take over Izvestia, its most decisive step yet in a battle that has raged for months between conservative legislators and President Boris Yeltsin over one of the country's most popular newspapers.

In separate votes, both houses of parliament ruled in favor of taking control of Izvestia's publishing facilities. By doing so, the legislators delivered a blow to Yeltsin, defying his decree of two months ago taking the property under his wing.

The resolution puts the parliament in immediate control of Izvestia's massive publishing complex, which includes 13 buildings on Pushkin Square, three vacation resorts in the Moscow suburbs, a new printing facility, as well as pioneer camps and sanitariums in the Ryazan and Krasnodar regions.

At a press conference Tuesday, Mikhail Poltoranin, the press and information minister, said that the government was planning "a number of measures" to fight off this latest offensive on the freedom of the press, including taking the issue to the Constitutional Court.

The fight over Izvestia is just one example of tension between Yeltsin's government and the parliament, which has constantly opposed its reform plan. Izvestia has also been a point of contention between Poltoranin and parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, who called for each other's resignations over the issue last week.

Editors of the 75-year-old newspaper said that they would preserve Izvestia's status as an independent newspaper by immediately transforming into a publicly owned company separate from the publishing complex.

An aide to the editor-in-chief Igor Golembiovsky said that ownership of Izvestia's numerous joint projects, including a new printing facility worth several million dollars, was now unclear and would be settled in court.

"This just makes the realization of our projects much more difficult", said Sergei Chekina, the aide. "There's even a question as to who has the right to the name Izvestia".

The parliament, which resolved to, take over the facilities on the argument that Izvestia had belonged to the, Soviet parliament, plans to put out its own newspaper.

It remains unclear, however, whether Yeltsin's decree parliament's legislation takes precedence.

"I think they'll have problems", Chekina said. "Our readers are used to seeing us".