Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky: I've Bought Kommersant

Boris Berezovsky confirmed Friday at a meeting with the journalists of the Kommersant newspaper that he had purchased a controlling stake of their publishing house.

Berezovsky, a controversial Kremlin-connected tycoon, assured journalists that he would not interfere in the editorial policy of the paper, which he said would continue to function as before.

"My sector of responsibility is the commercial side," Berezovsky was quoted as saying in a Kommersant press release.

"The biggest way I can have an effect on Kommersant's policy f I would like to be heard by you, so that my point of view, my arguments on this or another problem be heard. This does not exclude the presence of other opinions in the paper, but even presumes them."

Berezovsky said he would "only try to have an effect at the level of choosing political priorities." He also said the criminal investigations against him can be covered "as before."

"If you had written the truth before, no one will hinder you now," he said.

In an interview with NTV television, the new general director and acting editor of Kommersant, Leonid Miloslavsky, confirmed that he had sold his 15 percent stake to Berezovsky's LogoVAZ company. "So did all the other shareholders," Miloslavsky added.

Miloslavsky said it was his decision to fire former editor Raf Shakirov, who left Thursday f and as a parting shot accused Berezovsky of trying to buy his loyalty with money.

Miloslavsky said Shakirov was a highly professional editor, but had "outgrown the newspaper and become a politician." Miloslavsky said a new editor would be appointed soon, but refused to name him.

Berezovsky said he had purchased the controlling stake in Kommersant from the American Capital company, which is run by Iranian-born businessman Kia Joorabchian. When Joorabchian announced in early July that he had purchased 85 percent of Kommersant from its owners f in what Joorabchian said was his first investment in Russia f he was widely suspected to be a mere front for Berezovsky.

Owning the Kommersant Publishing House f which includes the newspaper and several magazines f will expand Berezovsky's media empire, which in the past has been used as a political tool.

His holdings range include the ORT television giant, which is formally controlled by the state, the smaller TV-6 television company, and the Noviye Izvestia and Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily newspapers.

Most recently, ORT has been involved, on the part of the Kremlin, in a bitter conflict with Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-MOST holding.

Speaking to Kommersant reporters, Berezovsky said he would not like to see either former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov or Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov as president of Russia next year, Interfax reported. He offered no alternative candidates.

Kommersant foreign editor Azer Mursaliyev said in a telephone interview that there was no panic among reporters and that the purchase has been excessively dramatized.

"We'll wait and see," Mursaliyev said. "Thank God, there is no serfdom in our country and any journalist can quit at any moment. Our reporters have a high reputation and we won't remain jobless."