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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

03/22/1997

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Kremlin Accuses Papers of 'Political Provocation'

The Kremlin's media-watchdog chamber has accused two prominent opposition newspapers of trying to destabilize Russia in connection with a nationwide strike planned by trade unions for March 27. The Presidential Judicial Chamber for Information Disputes urged the federal prosecutor to investigate the editors of Sovietskaya Rossiya and Zavtra for what it said was ""large-scale political provocation aimed at destabilization of the situation in the country."" The chamber, a government body with vaguely defined powers, expressed outrage at Sovietskaya Rossiya's March 18 front page. The page included a montage of suggested strike slogans and calls to the labor front reminiscent of Communist propaganda campaigns during World War II. The accusations against the two newspapers coincide with a fervent Kremlin campaign to head off the March 27 strike, called to protest the government's huge wage and pension arrears.

Newspaper Stake Sale Approved

Shareholders of the Komsomolskaya Pravda company, which publishes Russia's largest circulation newspaper, voted Friday to approve the sale of 20 percent of the company's stock to Uneximbank in exchange for a promise of $20 million in investment over the next two years. The sale to Uneximbank, one of Russia's largest banks, was supported by a group of key senior managers at the paper, but opposed by the editor-in-chief and the majority of journalists. They had backed selling the stake to Gazprom, the government-controlled gas giant, on the grounds that it would be less likely to interfere in editorial policy. But the pro-Uneximbank group carried the day, having built up a majority stake in the newspaper company by buying shares from journalists. Prices of the company's shares have risen from $150 last year to between $500 and $1000. Vladimir Sungorkin, chairman of the company's board and leader of the pro-Uneximbank team, said that the dispute was between two ideologies.

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