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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Izvestia Ends Power Struggle With Election of New Editor

The influential daily Izvestia chose a new editor Friday, ending a months-long struggle over editorial control between journalists and its powerful shareholders, oil giant LUKoil and the Uneximbank group.

Vasily Zakharko, who has been acting editor since beleaguered chief editor Igor Golembiovsky left on forced vacation, was confirmed as the new chief editor Friday evening at a meeting of the board of directors.

The board picked one of three candidates who had been selected by journalists at a separate meeting. Zakharko was the front runner, with 104 journalists' votes, followed by economic columnist Otto Latsis, with 80, and deputy editor Anatoly Druzenko with 53.

Valery Yakov, a senior journalist at the paper, said before the vote Zakharko had assured his colleagues he was a candidate who would be acceptable for both major shareholders. But Yakov also said that during the last two weeks the newspaper had already felt censorship from the owners. Yakov said Zakharko refused to publish a statement by Golembiovsky on Friday demanding that his name be taken off the masthead.

Golembiovsky, a board member, who withdrew his nomination, was conspicuously absent from the elections and the board meeting.

But to some, the strong support among journalists for Zakharko's compromise candidacy was a sign that staff are tired of the long confrontation.

"There is hope that the turmoil, which has not let us work normally, will be over," said Druzenko.

Zakharko, 58, has worked at Izvestia for 25 years. Since 1996, he has been deputy editor in charge of news.

Russia's large banks and industrial companies have recently taken control of most of Moscow's main newspapers. For example, Gazprom recently took a major stake in Komosomolskaya Pravda. Entrepreneur and politician Boris Berezovsky now controls Nezavisimaya Gazeta.