Norway’s largest publisher of local media titles Amedia leaves full control of its wholly owned Russian printing houses to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitri A. Muratov.
- With what we are currently witnessing in Ukraine from the Russian authorities, it is impossible for Amedia to continue the printing business in the country. The independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which used our printing presses, has ceased all publications following several warnings from the Russian Media Authority. Amedia is now withdrawing, in a way that leaves control to peace prize laureate Muratov, says CEO of Amedia, Anders Møller Opdahl.
The board of Amedia has decided that the group will withdraw by transferring all control of Amedia’s printing houses.
- We have considered various solutions for withdrawing from our Russian operations, with a very limited room for maneuver. We are confident this is the best possible solution given the prevailing circumstances. In this way, the printing houses will be able to continue being important for independent media in Russia in the future, says chairman of the board of Amedia, André Støylen.
To be managed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Amedia’s subsidiary in Russia has four wholly owned printing houses. The management of these will be transferred to Nobel Peace Prize laureate, journalist, and editor Dmitri A. Muratov. He will exercise all shareholder rights at his own discretion and have full control of day-to-day operations.
- We at Novaya Gazeta welcome this wonderful resource with great gratitude. This will support free expression of opinion, and all profits will be contributed to promoting it. Independent media are the antidote to war. We will take care of the open printing business and the employees, says Muratov.
Amedia has written down the value of the printing business from NOK 38 million to zero. The funds from a possible future sale will be used to support the work of independent media in Russia.
- Our dialogue with Muratov has been good over time, and we are pleased that he has said yes. We believe that Muratov will be a good manager of the printing companies. The agreed upon solution also helps us safeguard the original intention of Amedia’s investments in Russia, says CEO Opdahl.
Amedia’s operations in Russia consist of a total of six printing houses. Four of them are wholly owned, while two are owned together with Russian minority shareholders. Amedia is working on a solution with the minority shareholders in the last two printing companies, so that the group can withdraw completely from Russia.
The background for establishing in Russia
Amedia owns a printing business in Russia for historical reasons. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the A-press, the forerunner of Amedia, wanted to help build a free, independent, and editor-controlled press in Russia. As part of this work, an extensive printing business was established.
It turned out to be too difficult to maintain independent media in the country, and the A-press withdrew. But the printing business continued after the editorial project ended.
- The printing houses in Russia have been available to a multitude of publishers, and have printed publications with various political views, including regime-critical newspapers. Novaya Gazeta has been with us until the newspaper stopped publishing. We have over time considered sales on many occasions but did not succeed in finding suitable owners and a suitable model. In our opinion, the solution we are now presenting is the best given the situation in Russia, says Opdahl.