July 21, 2024

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Muratov acquires control of Norway publisher’s printing houses

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The headquarters with the logo of Norwegian media company Amedia are pictured in Oslo on April 5, 2022, after the company announced the transfer of their Russian printing houses to Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, chief editor of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The announcement came as the media group also announced it was leaving Russia over the country's invasion of Ukraine. Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB / AFP


© The Manila Times
The headquarters with the logo of Norwegian media company Amedia are pictured in Oslo on April 5, 2022, after the company announced the transfer of their Russian printing houses to Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, chief editor of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The announcement came as the media group also announced it was leaving Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB / AFP


OSLO: Norwegian publisher Amedia said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) it was transferring control of its Russian printing houses to Dmitry Muratov, the Novaya Gazeta editor in chief who shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa.

The announcement came as the media group also announced it was leaving Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

“With what we are currently witnessing in Ukraine…it is impossible for Amedia to continue the printing business in the country,” Amedia Chief Executive Officer Anders Moller Opdahl said in a statement.

“Amedia is now withdrawing, in a way that leaves control to Peace Prize laureate Muratov,” he added.

Board Chairman Andre Stoylen said the company believed this was “the best possible solution, given the prevailing circumstances.”

“In this way, the printing houses will be able to continue being important for independent media in Russia in the future,” Stoylen said.

Muratov would have full control of daily operations and “exercise all shareholder rights at his own discretion” of the four printing houses wholly owned by Amedia’s Russian subsidiary.

Novaya Gazeta, which was already using the printing presses of Amedia’s subsidiary, announced in late March that it had suspended publication until the end of the invasion, which Russia insists is “a special military operation.”

Co-founded by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993, Novaya Gazeta had been the only main newspaper left voicing criticism of President Vladimir Putin and his tactics in and outside the country. It was was forced to suspend operations after receiving two formal warnings from Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media regulator — a situation that could prompt a court to strip the paper of its license.

“This will support free expression of opinion, and all profits will be contributed to promoting it. Independent media are the antidote to war. We will take care of the open printing business and the employees,” Muratov said in a statement, adding that his paper welcomed the resource with “great gratitude.”

Amedia also said it had written down the value of its Russian operations from 38 million Norwegian kroner ($4.4 million, 4 million euros) to zero.

In total, the Norwegian publisher owns six printing houses in Russia, four of them wholly owned and two together with Russian minority shareholders.

“Amedia is working on a solution with the minority shareholders in the last two printing companies, so that the group can withdraw completely from Russia,” the company said, adding that funds from a potential future sale would be used to support independent media in Russia.

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