Russia’s international news agency RIA Novosti has been closed following a decree handed down by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The international broadcasting service Voice of Russia, the Russian equivalent of the Voice of America or BBC World Service, was also closed under the same order.
Assets from both services will be absorbed into a new state-run media venture called “Russia Today” (Rossia Segodnya), Putin’s announcement said. An official said the changes were meant to save the government money and make “state media more effective,” though the now-shut RIA Novosti reported it was likely a strategic move designed to bring about tighter state control over editorial content.
Adding more controversy, Putin announced Russia Today will be led by former Channel One TV personality Dmitry Kiselyov, a news anchor known for his anti-American and anti-gay rhetoric. In April 2012, Kiselyov said on his show he believed gays should be banned from donating sperm and blood, and that their organs should be burned instead of donated to another person.
Russia Today will be tasked with presenting a Russian perspective on policy and news to the international community, VOA reported. The new agency will apparently be separate from global channel RT, which once operated under the Russia Today brand.
RIA Novosti: Putin closes down state-run media organization
Voice of Russia: Putin dissolves VOA, RIA Novosti into Rossia Segodnya