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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


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Izvestia May Pay For Riling Premier

The president of LUKOIL, Russia's largest private oil company, said Monday the firm might sell its large stake in the influential newspaper Izvestia for printing articles sharply critical of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. A quick sell-off could hurt Izvestia's share prices, with heavy implications for its overall financial health. The paper had no immediate official reaction, although one member of the editorial board said it was a bad omen for press freedoms in Russia. But it also reflects mounting official anger at what many in the government and big business view as irresponsible attacks on public figures. At immediate issue was Izvestia's reprint April 1 of an article in the French daily Le Monde that alleged Chernomyrdin has amassed a personal fortune of $5 billion, mostly while in office. The article sparked a furor in Russia and drew condemnations and denials from Chernomyrdin and the government.

Tsereteli Critic Retreats From Fray

The man who initiated the campaign for a city referendum aimed at removing the gigantic statue of Peter the Great from the banks of the Moscow River has dropped his campaign on the grounds that the issue has become too political. Moscow gallery owner Marat Gelman said Monday that his campaign was initially motivated by aesthetic concerns for the city's appearance but things were placed in the ""wrong context."" He said he was concerned about speculation that the campaign against the sculpture by Moscow artist Zurab Tsereteli was in fact aimed at undermining Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's presidential ambitions. Tsereteli is virtually Moscow's court sculptor, with works in the Manezh Square, the Church of Christ the Savior and the Moscow Zoo. Gelman said he had changed his stance after a more modest monument to Nicholas II by Vyacheslav Klykov in the village of Taininskoye near Moscow was blown up by as-yet-unknown vandals April 1.

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