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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Kommersant Editor Announced

Itar-TassVladislav Borodulin
Vladislav Borodulin, editor of the online news portal Gazeta.ru, was named on Wednesday as the new supervising editor of the Kommersant business daily.

Analysts disagreed on whether Borodulin's appointment would make the newspaper more critical of the Kremlin or was intended to improve its business coverage, as its owner, Boris Berezovsky, has claimed.

In another appointment, Kommersant's board of directors in London announced that Vladimir Lensky, who was executive director at NTV-Plus when businessman Vladimir Gusinsky owned the network, would become Kommersant's general director.

The appointments, part of a shakeup in Berezovsky's media empire, were announced by the Kommersant board chairman, Yuly Dubov, in London.

As editor of the Kommersant publishing house, Borodulin, 37, will supervise the editorial policy of Kommersant, as well as of the magazines Kommersant Vlast and Kommersant Dengi, said Georgy Ivanov, the chief of Kommersant's legal department.

"Kommersant has a uniquely creative staff that is unequaled in Russia," Borodulin told NTV television on Wednesday.

The board made no decision about Kommersant editor Alexander Stukalin, leaving it to Borodulin to decide whether he wants him to stay, Ivanov said. When announcing the changes to Kommersant staff last week, Berezovsky said that Stukalin would have to leave too.

Andrei Vasilyev, who combined the positions of general director and supervising editor at Kommersant, will head Kommersant's Ukraine edition, which will start publication soon, Dubov said.

Alexei Mukhin, director of the Center for Political Information, called Borodulin "an adventurer" who could make Kommersant an anti-Kremlin publication. Berezovsky wants media coverage that will cast President Vladimir Putin in a bad light before the parliamentary and presidential elections respectively in 2007 and 2008 and that is why he chose Borodulin, Mukhin said.

"He is the kind of person Berezovsky needs now -- one who can do business in a rather risky way and is adventurous in character," Mukhin said.

In March 1998, a Kommersant article under Borodulin's byline criticized then-Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov for ordering his plane to turn around over the Atlantic as a means of protesting the start of the U.S.-led attack on Serbia -- a sharp contrast to domestic news reports that overwhelmingly approved of the gesture.

Raf Shakirov, who was Kommersant editor at the time, described Borodulin as "a professional journalist" but said he had disapproved of the article because he thought it was biased and written to please Berezovsky. "I understood that Borodulin was a pawn in that game," Shakirov said, Interfax reported. Shakirov was fired as editor after apologizing to Primakov over the article.

Georgy Bovt, editor of Profil magazine, said that Vasilyev was replaced by Borodulin to improve the paper's business coverage, not to change its political stance, Interfax reported.

Igor Yakovenko, general secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, said Berezovsky would sacrifice Kommersant's popularity and profitability if he were to transform the newspaper into a political weapon against Putin.

"I'm sure Berezovsky won't kill the goose that lays the golden egg," Yakovenko said. "Berezovsky doesn't have an oil gusher in his hands, so it hardly makes sense for him to incur losses from Kommersant."

Borodulin has worked at Gazeta.ru since 1999.

Gazeta.ru politics editor Alexander Pisarev, who has also previously worked for Kommersant, was promoted to replace Borodulin.

Dubov said he nominated Vasilyev to replace him as head of Kommersant's board of directors.

Vasilyev said he was willing to accept the position, Interfax reported.