Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree announcing the shutdown of state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, a move that stunned its editors and staff, BuzzFeed reports.
Dmitry Kiselyov, known for his anti-gay remarks and support of Putin, has reportedly been selected to run a new network, Rossiya Segodnya.
The Telegraph notes in an Aug 13 story that during a 2012 televised debate, Kiselyov said, "Banning gay people from distributing propaganda to children is not enough. I think they should be banned from donating blood or sperm, and if they die in a car crash, their hearts should be burnt or buried in the ground as unsuitable for the continuation of life." According to the report, Kiselyov's critics called for him to be fired from Russia 24 TV, while others wanted an investigation into the matter.
The BBC cites a Kremlin official as saying that the new network was created to save money and expand its reach. According to CBS News, Putin's decree says the network's main focus is to project Russia's policies and public life internationally.
In a brief analysis, the BBC's Daniel Sandford observes that "of all the state-owned media organisations, RIA Novosti has made the greatest attempt to produce balanced coverage in recent years" and carried the views of Kremlin opponents.
In response to the shutdown, RIA Novosti says the move is the latest phase in what appears to be a bid "towards a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector."