German publishers Axel Springer has announced the closure of Russian Newsweek, one of the few independent national current affairs publications left in the country.
Axel Springer say the move is solely commercial, but some at Russian Newsweek feel that politics has played a part, with authorities resenting the magazine’s staff going about their business of investigating and reporting stories:
“If you ask me what could irritate the authorities about the Russian NEWSWEEK’s coverage, I will tell you: everything,” says Mikhail Zygar, NEWSWEEK RUSSIA’s news editor.
One of NEWSWEEK RUSSIA’s biggest scoops—and one that earned it the lasting enmity of at least one powerful faction in the Kremlin—was about the family origins of chief ideologue and deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov. In 2005 the magazine revealed that his father, Andarbek Danilbekovich Dudayev, was an ethnic Chechen, and that Surkov had taken steps to obscure his family origins. “Surkov was angry when we published our story from Chechnya with photographs of his Chechen family,” says Leonid Parfenov, who was editor of NEWSWEEK RUSSIA at the time. “I had to explain to him that he could not keep his Chechen background secret.”