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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vremya Novostei Accused of Cloning

Three weeks after the entire editorial team of the respected but low-circulation Vremya MN daily left its publisher, Moskovskiye Novosti, to start a new paper, Moskovskiye Novosti has hired a new group of reporters and resumed publication of its old title, Vremya MN.

Alexander Vainshtein, president of the Moskovskiye Novosti publishing house, accused Vremya Novostei's publishers of "cloning" Vremya MN and said that his company's lawyers are considering legal action.

"It is unprecedented for an entire newspaper to be cloned," Vainshtein said in a telephone interview Thursday. He added that the Press Ministry is expected to issue a statement on the conflict.

"Even if such a case would be hard to prove legally, it should certainly be condemned in moral terms," he said.

Vainshtein said that Vremya MN's old backers - a group of Central Bank-controlled financial bodies - will stand firm by the new publication under the old name.

Vremya Novostei editor Vladimir Gurevich, who led his entire team away from Moskovskiye Novosti, said another Central Bank-controlled body, Vneshekonombank, has invested in the new paper.

He said he is currently negotiating with "several banking and industrial entities," including Unified Energy Systems and Sibirsky Aluminum.

Gurevich said he split with Moskovskiye Novosti because the Vremya MN investors were not interested in developing the paper. He said Vremya MN reporters had not been paid in the last three months.

Gurevich brushed aside accusations of "cloning," saying the Vremya MN brand name, which has existed for only two years, did not have any value in and of itself.

He said he expected it to be difficult to make a profit with the newspaper, but that the Vremya Novostei company intends to develop other publications and Internet projects to support the paper.

Dmitry Murzin, the new editor of Vremya MN, said he had hired a new team of reporters in one week. Murzin previously edited Finansoviye Izvestia, a business supplement to Izvestia put out with Financial Times investment, which fell apart two years ago.

A Vremya MN employee who asked not to be named said he had been lured to the new team by the promise of a salary of more than $500 a month - relatively high by current standards at Moscow's newspapers. But he said the staff had been hired for a two-month trial period, after which the owners will consider whether or not to continue publishing the daily.

Although both Vremyas declare a circulation of over 50,000 copies, their real circulation is believed to be about one-tenth of that.