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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Itogi Fights Takeover By Kremlin Loyalists

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While Media-MOST struggled to resist a takeover of its NTV television, its weekly magazine Itogi also appeared to be on the verge of being taken over by a team loyal to the Kremlin.

Dmitry Biryukov, head of Itogi's publishers, Sem Dnei, reportedly decided last week to form a new editorial team for the magazine. He has not yet dismissed the existing team of 75 people, but the Itogi editor said Tuesday that he expected the dismissals at any time.

"There is a certain team within the publishing house, drafted mainly from people who broke away from the Segodnya newspaper, waiting for a convenient moment to oust the existing staff," Itogi editor Sergei Parkhomenko said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Sem Dnei publishing house is controlled by Biryukov and Media-MOST's main creditor, state-run gas monopoly Gazprom.

Together they control a 50 percent stake plus one share; Media-MOST head Vladimir Gusinsky controls the remaining 50 percent minus one share.

Click here to read our special report on the Struggle for Media-MOST.

Biryukov was a longtime business associate of Gusinsky's, but earlier this year took Gazprom's side in a bitter dispute with Media-MOST.

The news that Biryukov wants to keep Itogi came less than a month after Sem Dnei decided to dump Segodnya, saying it was a money-loser.

Media-MOST officials called the decision political and said they will continue to publish the paper independently. Segodnya leaves Sem Dnei on May 1.

Parkhomenko said that none of Itogi's employees is willing to work under new Gazprom management. Even though Biryukov has ordered the new team to start working on the next issue of Itogi, due out Monday, Parkhomenko said his staffers are putting together the issue, "although aware that it could be the last."

Biryukov refused to comment on the situation at Itogi.

Itogi has been published for five years jointly with Newsweek, which expressed concern about the pending changes.

"We are very disturbed by the developments in Moscow, and we are seeking clarifications from the people who have apparently taken control of Itogi," Newsweek spokesman Ken Weine said in a telephone interview from New York.

Parkhomenko said his team may decide to take up a new publication.

"I started the magazine some six years ago having nothing but the idea and my own reputation, while now I have a brilliant team of journalists," Parkhomenko said.

"We have everything we need to publish a magazine and a hostile aggressive environment around us. That means we will have to get ourselves out [of the situation at Sem Dnei] with minimal possible consequences."

Itogi has been quite profitable with "rather substantial" revenues, he said. Kommersant reported that the magazine has revenues of up to $1.5 million a year.

Sem Dnei also publishes a television guide called Sem Dnei and the glossy magazine Karavan Istorii.