Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov, the owner of Russia's major Kommersant publishing house, has fired the holding CEO Andrey Galiev and editor-in-chief of the Kommersant Vlast magazine Maxim Kovalsky after they published photos with offensive remarks targeting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
“These materials are comparable to hooliganism,” Gazeta.ru reported, quoting Usmanov.
Demyan Kudryavtsev, CEO of the publishing house, apologized for this publication on Tuesday. “Internal procedures and rules of the Kommersant publishing house, the standards of professional journalism and the law of the Russian Federation have been violated. The executive group of the Publishing House regrets this and would like to apologize to readers and partners,” Kudryavtsev wrote in his blog.
Galiev and Kovalsky have not issued any comments as of Tuesday afternoon.
On December 12 the magazine published several photos accompanying an article about the December 4 State Duma elections. One photo depicted a vote ballot with an obscene remark aiming Putin, written in red ink across it.
The whole magazine issue was devoted to analysis the results and the alleged violations of the vote in which Putin’s ruling United Russia party barely maintained a parliamentary majority.
The vote was heavily criticized by many foreign and domestic observers as rigged in favor of the ruling party. The country's leadership does not agree with this assertion but the President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an investigation into the complaints.
Deputy chief editor of Kommersant Vlast, Veronika Kutsyllo, has denied hooliganism charges spelled out by Usmanov. “I don’t think this is provocation. We never use profanity in the magazine, it is a quote,” she told Ekho Moskvy radio on Tuesday.
Usmanov said a law suit may be filed against Kovalsky for the publication, Gazeta.ru reported on Tuesday.
Kommersant publishing house is one of the biggest, oldest and respected Russian news organizations. In 2006 it was acquired by Alisher Usmanov, a metals tycoon with close ties to the state-owned Gazprom corporation. He is also a major stakeholder in the British Arsenal football club.