12:24 Jul. 13, 2016
RBC media group staff wrote stories about Putin's friends and family, and other taboo subjects like the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine
A former editor of a Russian media group described how he and colleagues were pushed out over reporting that angered officials, in the first public account of the taming of Russia's last big news organization willing to take on the Kremlin.
In his first public comments since his dismissal along with two other top editors from RBC media group in May, Roman Badanin told Reuters that he and his colleagues were fired in the wake of a campaign of pressure on the group's billionaire owner that came to a head after they published a story on the "Panama Papers" leaks.
Last week, RBC managers presented the replacement editors, recruited from state-owned news agency Tass, who told a tense meeting with staff that there would be limits on what and how they could report, according to someone who was present.
RBC's owner Mikhail Prokhorov, a metals magnate who also owns the Brooklyn Nets U.S. basketball team, had previously shielded its journalists. The group's news agency, newspaper and television station wrote stories about Putin's friends and family, and other taboo subjects like the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine.
But after the Panama Papers story in April, which was illustrated with a picture of Putin and alleged that a close childhood friend of the president's had offshore accounts, the official pressure was turned up a notch.