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Russian media group settles with Rosneft

June 26, 2017

Russian media group RBK on Monday said it has reached a legal settlement with Rosneft and its influential chief Igor Sechin, apologising for publishing “damaging” information about the oil giant, a move which ends a lengthy court case.

Rosneft had sued RBK over damage caused to its business reputation by a story last April which alleged that company management tried to keep British oil major BP from bidding for a 19.5 percent stake to be privatised in Rosneft.

British firm BP, which is the largest minority stakeholder in Rosneft, did not submit a bid during the government’s drive to privatise the state-owned stake, which eventually went to commodities trader Glencore and Qatar’s sovereign fund.

Rosneft demanded that RBK pay an unprecedented $52 million in damages, which the court reduced to a much smaller sum in a December decision that RBK appealed.

In a statement on RBK website, the company said the sides now “reached a peaceful settlement” in which the editorial team members that were party in the conflict “admit that information… in the publication is not true and damages business reputation of Rosneft.”

They further “apologise to Rosneft and the company’s chief executive Igor Sechin.”

The settlement and apology follow the sale of RBK, a news outlet focused on economic news which is known for its editorial independence, by Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov earlier this month.

The news holding was bought by businessman Grigory Berezkin who owns the pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda and the free Moscow newspaper Metro distributed in the Moscow underground metro system.

RBK has published investigations on issues ranging from Moscow’s involvement in Syria and Ukraine to conflicts to the business dealings of individuals in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

Last summer however senior editors were fired and many of its journalists quit in protest amid speculation of government pressure on one of Russia’s last independent news outlets.


Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.