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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

04/22/1997

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Volgograd Epitomizes Provincial Press Wars

The newspaper war in Volgograd is so intense, not even the crossword puzzle is neutral ground. When the independent Gorodskiye Vesti was given a printing press by a U.S. aid agency, its competitor, the government-owned Volgogradskaya Pravda, printed this crossword definition: ""A publishing concern in Volgograd, financed by American imperialism."" The five-square answer: ""Vesti."" The battle raging on the Volga between Volgogradskaya Pravda and Gorodskiye Vesti -- partly funded by both Russian and U.S. taxpayers -- is a small test case in the struggle to forge a free media in Russia. While notional free speech exists, in the provinces the regional governors control the money and the printing presses, and the local newspapers just toe the line. Gorodskiye Vesti was supposed to be an exception. With a $475,000 grant from the U.S. government, it acquired its own printing press, theoretically securing it political independence from the communist governor. Not all is black and white, however.

Izvestia Shareholders Postpone Showdown

Editors of the newspaper Izvestia have won a delay in a crucial shareholders' meeting, giving them extra time to gird for what they see as a showdown with Russia's largest private oil company for control of the influential daily. The newspaper's board of directors, controlled by journalists, decided Friday to postpone the general shareholders meeting from Tuesday to June 4. Some editors say they fear Izvestia's biggest shareholder, oil giant LUKOIL, will use the meeting to push through major changes in personnel and policy. The newspaper said in an editorial that it might use the time to challenge the legality of the way LUKOIL obtained some of its stake. Izvestia's relations with the oil company soured earlier this month when the paper reprinted an article from the French daily Le Monde alleging that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had amassed a personal fortune of $5 billion during his term of office.

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