The Kommersant Ukraine was officially shut down by their Russian publisher due to lack of funds, but a source told The Kyiv Post the actual reason was censorship.
The source said the company did not want to publish a March 13 story which contained statements from national Security and Defense Council chief Andriy Parubiy, Ukrainian Admiral Ihor Teniukh, Russia’s Defense Ministry, and Ukrainian Vice-Admiral Ihor Kabanenko. The Kyiv office refused to censor it and Moscow shut them down.
According to Telekritika [Kyiv-based media watchdog], Moscow ordered it to be removed and replaced by a different article authored by the Russians. The Ukrainian editorial team first layed out the Russian article, but then later decided not to run the story and publish the March 13 issue.
Kommersant Ukraine chief editor Valeriy Kalnysh declined comment to the Kyiv Post.
However, the publisher said the publication lost money after Kyiv erupted in protests when then-Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych turned down a trade deal with the European Union in favor of a Russia bailout.
“The newspaper’s main advertisers were companies in the banking and automobile sectors,” stated Kommersant Russia general director Pavel Filenkov. “From when the events (anti-government protests) in Ukraine started to unfold, the publication became not only unpromising, but also hopeless.”
Despite the loss of revenue, employees received a 10% salary boost in February. When that detail came up, The Kyiv Post asked Filenkov exactly when advertising revenue went down.
When asked to clarify after which events did advertising revenue start to decline, Filenkov said when “they started to acuminate,” referring to clashes along Khrushevskoho Street in January.
On March 11, two journalists resigned in Moscow because of censorship. The staff at Lenat.ru believe the chief editor was forced to resign after the publication published an article from the Right Sector leader, a group Russia views as extremist and a danger to Russia interests. Kommersant’s reporter Anastasia Karimova posted her resignation letter on Facebook and Instagram and said there is no acceptable work for journalists in Russia. Russia Today anchor Liz Wahl resigned on air because of the network’s backing of Russia’s actions towards Ukraine.